Federal Aviation Administration Issues Pilot Cannabis Policy

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an advisory on June 18 regarding the official cannabis policy for pilots. For those who are still unclear, the FAA clarified that pilots cannot consume cannabis—even if it is non-psychoactive.

According to the advisory, the FAA decided that because cannabis has grown in popularity across the country recently, that it was time to address the proper rules and behaviors in response to recent questions being asked about cannabis’ role in the flight community.

“The Federal Air Surgeon’s office has received a number of inquiries about marijuana, due to the recent increase in the number of states around the country that have approved its use for medical and recreational purposes,” the official wording of the advisory states. “Specifically, airmen are concerned about the safety of cannabidiol (CBD) oil use and how such use impacts an airman’s medical certificate. Be aware that federal law—not state law—governs FAA medical and pilot certification.”

The advisory also warns that pilots can be tested for cannabis, and that they still need to be able to pass such a test, regardless of where they live. “The U.S. Department of Transportation drug test includes THC, and its presence at defined levels constitutes a positive drug test,” the advisory adds. “Although most CBD products claim to have under 0.3-percent THC, they could contain high enough levels of THC to make a drug test positive. Use of CBD oil is not accepted as an affirmative defense against a positive drug test.”

Still, while the advisory warns against any kind of cannabis use, it admits that more research still needs to be done before its effects can be fully understood. “We need to understand much more before considering the use of marijuana and its derivatives for airman certificate holders,” the report continued. “Please also be aware that no special issuances have been granted for conditions treated with medical marijuana.”

This is not a surprising new regulation, given that Canada just offered similar regulations for its flight crews. As legalization continues to spread, those who regulate flight will need to make more and more adjustments.

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