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

Just Posted

Oak Bay is the second-least dangerous community in Canada according crime index

Victoria and Esquimalt ranks 32nd in Canada, 9th in British Columbia

Plant-based pizza restaurant to open its doors in Victoria this December

Virtuous Pie has locations in Vancouver, Toronto and Portland

Ocean swim challenge shines spotlight on Crystal Pool plight

Ultra-marathon swimmer sends tongue-in-cheek invite to Victoria council

Rickter Scale: Children in the eye of the porn storm

The Rickter Scale is a weekly column

VIDEO: Ron MacLean says he doesn’t believe former co-host Don Cherry is racist

Sportsnet fired Cherry on Nov. 11, two days after controversial on-air comments during ‘Coach’s Corner’

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

Distracted driving tickets not for ICBC revenue, B.C. minister says

Minister Mike Farnworth calls SenseBC analysis ‘nonsense’

CN Rail strike and lack of trucking alternatives stoke forest industry fears

Companies calling on the federal government to ‘do everything in its power’ to end the strike

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveils new Liberal cabinet

Pivotal role in his new cabinet for a minority-government era goes to Chrystia Freeland

B.C. woman puts call out for 10,000 personal, heartfelt Christmas cards for the homeless

Christmas Card Collective enters into third year of making spirits bright

No turn signals, double-parking among top concerns for B.C. drivers: poll

Two-thirds of B.C. drivers said that not using turn signals was their biggest pet peeve

1 dead, 2 seriously injured in crash with elk on Hwy. 18 in Cowichan

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP were called to the scene at about 8 p.m. Tuesday night

Man accused in fatal Shuswap church shooting also charged with arson

Parmenter family home badly damaged by fire a month before killing

Most Read