Military, Companies & Drug Testing, Oh My!
To start this article off we are going to discuss the reasoning behind drug testing from the various viewpoints of the organizations testing their employees/members/minions.
The thought process of many of these organizations is that drugs are bad, m’kay. This thought process comes from decades of being told that cannabis is “The Devil’s Lettuce”. Many of those in their 20s do not share this viewpoint as they have grown up in a time where cannabis has been generally accepted or ignored from a legal standpoint. But lettuce be realistic most positions that determine policies regarding drug testing are not held by someone in their 20s.
This is pretty self-explanatory, don’t operate heavy machinery, weapons, vehicles or anything that has a reasonable potential to kill someone when you’re drunk or high. This is why they test to lower the chances of harm happening.
All Other Jobs
Some situations it is a blanket company policy if the worker in the oil fields working for Husky can be high on site, the office worker showing up to the downtown Calgary office shouldn’t either. This may seem unfair, but it is trying to treat all employees equally, but this thought process is flawed.
Others are tested because they want to ensure that people are not unprofessionally showing up to work high. And that the company is paying for the optimal amount of work ethic by that employee. This is also flawed.
What Does The Law Say?
As we have discussed in other articles the law is different for each province. Federally, they have said nothing.
The Alberta Cannabis website states
This is a reoccurring theme through all the provincial cannabis legislation. This leaves it open-ended and for the courts to decide over the long term.
What Are The Policies?
This obviously will vary from company to company. Generally, smaller companies will not test simply due to the cost involved as well as having a closer relationship with their employees and can determine if any cannabis use is becoming problematic. The main exception to this rule is usually companies that are being contracted by larger companies that require them to adhere to their drug testing policies for “safety” purposes.
Larger companies will tend to lean on the side of caution and since they cannot build a relationship with each one of their cogs, they will rely on drug testing to determine the “troublemakers”, which in itself is not that bad of a policy, if you are testing positive for meth, it is likely you’re not going to be an entirely productive member of the team or it could spiral out of control quickly and easily.
These are the most well thought out and fair policies the Giant Squirrel has seen regarding this article. The giant squirrel believes that these could be used as an excellent base for any company policies or governmental organizations going forward.
Section 5.1 is general prohibitions, which is basically not while you’re deployed, in training or on active assignment/duty.
Section 5.2 is specific items such as 8 hours prior to any known active duty. 24 Hours prior to operating/working on any vehicles, 28 days prior to any “big vehicles” and total prohibition for international assignments.
Originally, when these policies were released the Giant Squirrel remembers seeing a total prohibition for pilots, however, that appears to have been reduced to 28 days prior to any assignment.
Having discussed the original policies with a friend in the military his response was;
I am concerned that the lobbying to move for the legalization of what is a mind altering (even temporarily) drug, which will be predominately consumed thru smoked inhalation, was not met with the same funding or vigour to analyse and prepare for the negative outcomes associated with use. It took us years to learn the costs and methods to pay for and prevent issues stemming from alcohol use, and we still don’t have that correctly. I did not think I personally am trained or prepared to ensure the safety of my soldiers in a legal weed world during activities where a heightened level of acuity and shortened reaction time is needed.
This is likely the most honest and realistic response I have received regarding this topic.
Each department is going to adopt their own policies in regards to the use and regulation. Some take a harder aggressive stance than others, the OPP originally came out with a simple no consumption 28 days prior to active duty, which essentially bans officers in the OPP from consuming. This has since been changed and now a “show up fit for duty” stance has been taken.
The RCMP’s policy on Cannabis use is a bit more restrictive, it does define the term “safety-sensitive position”, this applies to all patrol officers in general and applies to dispatchers.
After discussing with an RCMP dispatcher their personal thoughts on the issue, he did not agree with the policy and would like to see it changed. He also informed me that they do not enforce the policy, at least with dispatchers, but that it is a terminatable violation. What this equates to is a Sword of Damocles situation. This put those who wish to use cannabis for various purposes to either hide it or disclose it, either option carries the anxiety that you will lose your source of income. The other option is not to consume all together, this is an option, but we did try this during alcohol prohibition and if someone is sitting at the lake on their days off the government shouldn’t be dictating how they enjoy themselves unless it has a high potential to harm others.
They even explain why the RCMP is being so restrictive is because of the lack of information regarding the effects of cannabis. These policies will likely change as the effects of cannabis are more thoroughly researched. But until then the sword will continue to hang and some will use the sword with good judgement others will not, as is with most things in life.
Until then any Canadian armed forces, EMTs, Officers in any field and other Emergency Workers feel free to use promo code Forces20 and you’ll get 20% off the whole store and discreet packaging. You may (highly unlikely) be required to provide proof if we cannot determine that fairly ourselves.
Due to the lack of research on cannabis, we are stuck in a poor position to make policies, but these policies must be made as the alternative is a free for all situation where we “find out the hard way” on the effects of cannabis in the workplace and in safety-sensitive positions.
This biggest issue we currently have with workplace drug usage is mainly from legitimate prescription drugs. As there is such a wide variety of drugs with a wide variety of side effects for a wide variety of people, we cannot place a blanket restriction on prescription drugs for safety-sensitive positions or we would have half the population being ineligible for these positions. Like prescription drugs, cannabis has a different on different people and different effects based on the consumption method as described in our other article and dependent on the strain too. So many variables we are better placing a “fit for work” policy rather than a “restrict the source” policy.
– A Giant Squirrel