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Cannabis Regulation – “Let’s get on with it”

As you know, Transport Canada recently published a letter outlining a 28-day pre-flight ban on the use of Marijuana. While HAC believes that this is a promising first step, the Minister needs to reduce the terms of the letter to regulation that codifies the prohibition. Commercial AOC holders and the flight crews that operate their aircraft have been hung-out-to-dry on this file in a number of ways. For example, a week before cannabis was legalized in October of last year the Minister issued a letter that made it clear that only the existing regulations on the subject of impairment, set out in 602 .03(c) would continue to apply – as if the Liberal government only recently became aware that the drug was about to be legalized. That is:

“No person shall act as a crew member of an aircraft

 (c)  while using any drug that impairs the person’s faculties to the extent that the safety of the aircraft or of persons on board the aircraft is endangered in any way.”

AOC holders and flight crews alike were left wondering how they could possibly know, when flight crew members were “impaired” according to 602.03, and employers were left wondering how they could possibly exercise their due diligence to ensure that the section was not violated – through changes to their own company policy, or an expanded testing program, for example. To make matters worse, the Minister added a box to the Form that is completed when flight crew members attend for their periodic medical examinations with their CAME’s.  They were asked if they had used Cannabis in the last 12 months – in the absence of any regulatory standard or even guidance material produced by Transport Canada, about cannabis “impairment”.  Furthermore, there was never any indication of what the consequences of ticking that box. Sort of like being pulled over for speeding, without a posted speed limit, or any idea what the fine might be – except for pilots and operators, their livelihood and the safety of their passengers was at stake.

The letter from the Minister was a step in the right direction, but HAC is appealing to the Minister to “get on with it”.  Pass the new ban into law and provide some cover to employers who are contemplating a random testing program; tell us how Medical Cannabis and CBD will be addressed, and produce some guidance material so that flight crews and operators know where to draw the line on the recreational and medical use of Cannabis.

For more information on this subject, please see Flying High, produced by Emond Harnden LLP