Drug Use on the Rise in Canadian Army

By Paul Gaita 12/29/14

Even with a zero tolerance policy, marijuana and cocaine use continues to climb inside the ranks of the Canadian Army. 


Random drug tests conducted on members of the Canadian Army revealed that marijuana use is on the rise among soldiers, with cocaine also gaining moderate ground. The tests, conducted between January 1 and December 31, 2013, drew data from urine samples collected from more than 4,000 participants from most ranks and age groups. Of that number, 279 urine specimens—or 6.6% of the entire survey group—tested positive for at least one drug, with marijuana ranking the highest at 5.3% of all samples. The same tests, conducted in 2012, showed positive tests for marijuana in just 4.2% of samples and 4.8% in 2011. 

Positive tests for cocaine use also showed modest gain in the 2013 tests, turning up in 44 samples—the highest rate since the tests were first conducted in 2007. Traces of morphine, methamphetamine, MDMA and MDA were also found, though in very low rates. The findings, compiled in a 42-report, offered no clear-cut reason for the increased numbers, but notes that the highest number of positive results may have come from younger and non-commissioned members. None of the soldiers who tested positive will be disciplined, despite the Canadian Forces’ zero-tolerance policy towards drugs, because “no urine sample can be attributed to a specific member,” as a spokesperson for the Defense Department noted. 

As in the United States, Canada has recently adopted a more tolerant attitude towards marijuana, with 66% of 1,800 respondents polled by Forum Research voicing their support for either complete legalization or decriminalization for small amounts of cannabis. The poll results echo the stance of Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau who has voiced support for legalization. However, the results do not reflect the opinion of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party, which has called for stricter enforcement of marijuana laws.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.