According to Ashok Srinivasan, Manager, Maritime Technology and Regulation,BIMCO, the increase in legislation for cannabis access to the drug is easier and ships’ drug and alcohol policy must reflect that and define clear limits.
If the policy only talks about banned drugs or illegitimate drugs, this may not include cannabis under all flag states, states that have for example legalized cannabis.
Usual phrases as ‘Any illicit use or abuse of narcotics and drugs are strictly prohibited for all company employees’ or ‘Disciplinary action will be taken against all those who use or possess alcohol or banned substances onboard ships and/or are caught in possession of alcohol banned substances’ have to be updated.
Keeping in mind that cannabis use is being legalized in some countries, the use of cannabis might not qualify for the above ‘rules of caution’.
Srinivasan commented that a well-worded policy that takes the new legislation into account is:
This company has banned the possession and use of any kind of drugs, with the exception of drugs under prescription that are solely for medical use
Also, BIMCO advises to circulate educational material amongst seafarers, to note the changes into legislation, while also contacting the respective P&I Club to get the guidance needed.
Canada is one of the few countries that has taken measures on cannabis. Transport Canada has issued a Bulletin addressing that it is illegal to operate a vessel while being impaired with drugs or alcohol.