Flight crews can return to work 12 hours after drinking alcohol, but would have to wait 28 days after using cannabis. (Peninsula News Review File)

Rules grounding high flight crews for 28 days likely to be challenged

Lawyer says policy could compromise charter rights and personal liberties

A Vancouver lawyer warns new rules forbidding flight crews from using cannabis for 28 days before flying could be unconstitutional.

The new Transport Canada policy instructs flight crews to abstain for almost a month, effectively creating a full-time ban. Critics say this is in stark contrast to alcohol rules, which allow crew members back at work 12 hours after drinking.

ALSO READ: New roadside testing device can’t identify drug impairment says Vancouver lawyer

The policy is designed to protect the public as Canadian Aviation Regulations require pilots, cabin crew and air traffic controllers to not be “under the influence of any drug that impairs the person’s faculties to the extent that aviation safety is affected.”

But some critics are calling the rules confusing and, the length of abstention, excessive.

The policy doesn’t distinguish between different cannabis compounds, like psychoactive THC and non-psychoactive CBD; which is isolated and used to treat pain. Critics say these compounds, called cannabinoids, are detectable in a user’s body far after the physical effects have worn off.

Transport Canada, however, thinks 28 days is fair and because impairment level tests are in their infancy, the rules are a proportionate response to protect passengers.

ALSO READ: Cannabis companies want to bring a new mood to the workplace

“Cannabis, like many other substances such as narcotics, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, etc., causes impairment that can affect the judgement and actions of members of a flight crew, including pilots. There is scientific consensus regarding the long-lasting effects of cannabis on individuals, even after impairment is no longer felt. However, current tests for the psychoactive chemical in cannabis do not correspond with impairment levels.”

Vancouver Lawyer Sarah Leamon, experienced in cannabis law, believes the rules are likely to be challenged and might prove unconstitutional.

“I believe this may be challenged under Charter S. 7, which is the right to life, liberty and security of the person, but other legal challenges may be foreseeable as well. I am of the view that this ban could potentially compromise the charter rights and personal liberties of medical cannabis users who require access to their prescribed medications in order to manage their medical conditions or illnesses.”

ALSO READ: Cannabis medication provides relief for some pain and epilepsy sufferers

While flight safety is paramount to Transport Canada and the rules are being implemented to protect passengers, many believe a clear scientific consensus has not yet emerged, especially regarding the length of time crews are instructed to abstain. Cannabis advocates also cite the lack of evidence of cannabis hangovers compared to the well documented effects of hangovers due to alcohol.

“There does not appear to be any scientific evidence to support the notion that cannabis will continue to affect or impair the faculties of a subject for a prolonged period of time, extending into 28 days,” says Leamon.

Presently, the ban seems to extend to all air crew members, pilots and air traffic controllers, although it is unknown if any employee has fallen foul of the new rules.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

cannabis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pedestrian, cycling overpass now open at McKenzie Interchange

Bridge connects Portage Road, Galloping Goose Regional Trail

Pandemic spurs egg-citement for backyard chickens in Greater Victoria

Fowl surge in popularity during COVID-19 pandemic

Saanich looks at allowing alcohol in parks after North Vancouver gives the green light

Bylaw allowing liquor in parks ‘a very positive idea,’ mayor says

Pandemic profiles: Passion at the heart of community businesses

Businesses rely on community support to stay open

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Most Read