Transport Canada Reinforces Pot Ban

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Transport Canada is reminding pilots that while the rest of the country may be changing its attitude toward marijuana, it hasn’t relaxed its stance. On July 1, 2018, possession of small amounts of pot and its recreational use will be legal in Canada. Provinces are developing intoxication detection and enforcement standards for drivers caught impaired behind the wheel. TC officials told delegates to the Air Transport Association of Canada meeting last week that any amount of TCH, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis, found in a pilot’s bloodstream will result in immediate suspension of flight privileges and that will last until the TCH is flushed from his or her system. Unlike water-soluble ethanol, TCH attaches to body fat and can persist for varying periods of time at detectable levels after one exposure. While the consequences of intoxication are potentially harsh, the chances of being caught are low, however, since Canada doesn’t mandate random drug and alcohol testing in pilots and clearly has no plans to implement such a regime.

At the same meeting, Transport Minister Marc Garneau was asked by industry officials to consider mandatory testing in light of a fatal crash involving a seriously drunk pilot. In the absence of any regulatory support, the industry is left to police the sobriety of its pilots on its own and it can be tricky legal ground because random testing is a court-tested violation of the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Garneau cited the Charter in his answer to the question but the Transportation Safety Board supports random testing and says the government could justify it under the country’s Human Rights Act. As we reported last week, the 34-year-old captain of a cargo flight took off with a blood alcohol content of more than .24 and the aircraft crashed in mountains north of Vancouver, killing him and his 32-year-old first officer. The TSB also said a possible scenario for the crash was suicide.

Comments (3)

I though the American government's stance on marijuana was inconsistent, but Canada has certainly topped ours. They are considering legalizing pot across the country, but feel that random drug testing of pilots and other transit operators violates their legal rights? What about the rights of the passengers? And I thought that our system was screwed up.

Posted by: John McNamee | November 15, 2017 11:53 AM    Report this comment

A lot of employers are proposing that in light of the legalization putting 30 day limits on use a a recreational drug. hat way the employee would only be able to use recreationally if they are off for more then 45 days. That's 2 weeks for vacation and 30 days to eliminate the THC in tissues. In other words you still will not be able to consume recreationally unless you leave that employer permanently. A trucking firm that does business internationally between US and Canada has gotten so far as having a written proposal to this effect. Since they do business in the US and have a US based HQ all they would have do is drug test the drivers when they are on the US side of the border and then can immediately suspend them. They are planning on having a replacement driver on standby for exactly this situation.

Posted by: Patrick Wingert | November 19, 2017 3:05 PM    Report this comment

A lot of employers are proposing that in light of the legalization putting 30 day limits on use a a recreational drug. That way the employee would only be able to use recreationally if they are off for more then 45 days. That's 2 weeks for vacation and 30 days to eliminate the THC in tissues. In other words you still will not be able to consume recreationally unless you leave that employer permanently. A trucking firm that does business internationally between US and Canada has gotten so far as having a written proposal to this effect. Since they do business in the US and have a US based HQ all they would have do is drug test the drivers when they are on the US side of the border and then can immediately suspend them. They are planning on having a replacement driver on standby for exactly this situation.

Posted by: Patrick Wingert | November 19, 2017 3:06 PM    Report this comment

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