When marijuana becomes legal, residents of Esquimalt can be confident that the naval ship pulling into their harbour won’t be steered by a sailor with one hand on the wheel and the other clutching a joint.
As the Oct. 17 date for legalization approaches, the Canadian Armed Forces is adapting its regulations to balance members’ rights with the obvious risks of putting expensive, lethal hardware in the hands of people who are high. Senior officers have had to reassure Canada’s closest allies that the country’s new pot regime won’t impair the military’s ability to do its job.
One obvious restriction is to prohibit marijuana on all aircraft and ships. It also won’t be permitted on any overseas missions or training. All personnel must abstain for eight hours before going on duty.
Some jobs and responsibilities will include prohibitions, and commanders can ask for further restrictions if their units need them.
While all this might seem unnecessarily complex in an organization that is no stranger to alcohol, the military has to take a cautious approach. The new policy includes an automatic 12-month review, so the brass can see how it is working.
Some longtime commanders think it won’t work at all. They don’t want their troops to touch the stuff, but in most cases, it won’t be up to them.
As with police forces and employers of all kinds, fashioning rules around legalizing pot will create headaches that even the biggest doobie won’t soothe.