Imagine, if you will, Canadian soldiers during the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915 smoking marijuana in the doomsday trenches of World War I rather than gasping for air through the urine-soaked handkerchiefs they used protect their lungs against the German’s poison gas attacks.
Well, we don’t have to tell you that the 1st Canadian Division, rather than “holding the line” against the Germans during this crucial battle, would have suffered a savage blow before the British arrived. Cannabis is a lot of things to many people, but a protective agent against the sidewinding whipping post that is chemical weapons — let’s just say we have not seen any research that leads us to trust its effectiveness.
But this doesn’t mean that Canadian soldiers wouldn’t have been grateful for the freedom to smoke weed to calm their nerves during this tumultuous time. The good new is that if ever another uprising of terror threatens our planetary sanctity and Canadian troops are called into action to support the nation’s allies, they may be well within their rights to fight with a little more THC coursing through their veins than most.
It seems that Canada’s Armed Forces will not have the power to impose a full-blown ban on the recreational use of marijuana once the northern nation takes the leap to legalize later this summer.
A recent report from CBC News indicates that soldiers will likely be held to similar guidelines already in place with respect to alcohol. Only the rules for pot consumption could be more far-reaching, according to Lieutenant General Chuck Lamarre, chief of military personnel.
We will “respect the law,” he told the news source. “But at the same time, I think Canadians are expecting our operational readiness and our ability to do our business must never be compromised.”
Although cannabis will no longer be considered criminal, the Canadian military will still need to keep its soldiers in line. To do this, the new policy will impose certain restrictions on cannabis consumption, the same as it does for alcohol. The current policy on alcohol consumption allows troops and civilian employees with National Defense to drink on their own time. But even booze is even subject to zero-tolerance policies in certain situations. For example: Getting trashed before special operations is not allowed.
Cannabis will be no different, Lamarre says. He admits it would be impossible for the military to ban the herb completely.
“There’s no total ban at this point,” he said. “We can’t do that. If the law says it’s no longer criminal to have it in your possession, it’s not a criminal act. You just can’t ban it outright.”
But not everyone is happy with the idea of Canada’s military forces walking around with THC in their systems. Although he refused to divulge any particulars of this controversy, Lamarre says there has been some discussion about holding certain positions within the military, like pilots and Special Forces, to a total ban. Branch commanders for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Special Forces have been asked to identify specific jobs for which restrictions should apply. It will be a situation where they say, “I need to restrict the following occupations for these periods of time, under these circumstances,” Lamarre explained.
Canada is set to become the second country in the world to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Lawmakers are still hashing out the details of the bill, but legal pot sales could begin around August, according to the latest reports. When this happens, adults, including military service members, will be allowed to purchase cannabis (and eventually edible pot products) from retail dispensaries in a manner similar to beer. The market is expected to become a huge business, raking in $22 billion once it is all set into motion.
But even in a legal climate, Lammarre does not foresee a newfound enthusiasm for getting stoned among military service members. “I don’t anticipate a whole whack of sparking up,” he said.
Until cannabis is officially legal nationwide, the Canadian military will maintain a zero-tolerance policy on the use of marijuana. But even this policy does not stop soldiers from getting high from time to time. The results of random drug screens conducted by National Defense since 2007 indicates that pot is still the military’s favorite illegal drug.