Cannabis legalization: What you need to know

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Last year, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, as a means of creating a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis across Canada. The Cannabis Act received Royal Assent on June 21, and as a result cannabis will be legal as of October 17, 2018.

The Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have been monitoring the federal legislation and are developing a CAF policy and guidance for the larger Defence Team to address the recreational use of cannabis. The National Defence regulations surrounding the use of cannabis will be ready for when the legislation takes effect this fall.

The health and well-being of Defence Team members and their families is at the core of Canada’s Defence Policy Strong, Secure, Engaged. Because cannabis has the potential for short and long-term impact on physical and mental health, its use has the potential to undermine the maintenance of physically fit, employable, and deployable forces; safety in the workplace; and operational effectiveness. The CAF policy will provide direction to members on limitations; restrictions based on duty, safety, and operational effectiveness; and consequences of misuse. Direction will also be provided to civilian public servants, contractors, and employees of external organizations who work on DND properties, ensuring safe and impairment-free environments.

Until the new legislation comes into force, cannabis is illegal and the CAF will continue to apply existing laws and policies. All military and civilian personnel should comply with the existing regulations around the use of illegal substances.

Details of the policies will be communicated before October 17. Meanwhile, Defence Team members are encouraged to visit the Cannabis: What you need to know (internal link) Intranet page to get updates on legislation, policies, and other resources. Information can also be found on the Government of Canada’s cannabis webpage.

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