My last blog post, “Dave Matthews Band, Colorado, and ‘Carriage’ – What You Need to Know about Marijuana,” sparked a lot of conversation. One colleague pointed out I had missed a critical piece – pilots who could end up being the unintentional consumers of cannabis-infused food products.
I live in Colorado and am amazed at how quickly marijuana use has become social acceptable to many people. Recreational use has only been legal since January 1 but already it seems to be “okay” in some circles. Denver news outlets have reported on “pot parties” where you can sample different types and average folks now have parties where you are offered a doobie or a beer at the door – your choice.
(Is this stuff flavored or what? I don’t get the need for “tasting” parties. I run with aviation folks so legal or not, it’s just not part of our life. Maybe it’s like vodka? It’s all essentially the same thing but once you determine your brand of choice, there’s no going back?)
^ I’m a Ciroc vodka girl in case you ever need a gift for me – original flavor, blue bottle, none of that berry or peach flavored junk.
I digress. While your company is considering a policy for dealing with dope-smoking passengers or cannabis-infused products on your airplanes, consider raising awareness among your pilots. They should be cautious of social situations in states with legalized recreational marijuana. Even if you aren’t based in Colorado or Washington, it’s likely your crews will have some downtime in these states at some point in their aviation careers. There’s no need to instill total paranoia in your crews but if they are socializing with unfamiliar people – especially if those people don’t know what your pilot does for a living or think slipping them an infused brownie is a cute joke – it makes sense to be aware of the possibility of unintentionally consuming cannabis. I’m not sure what the FAA would think of a claim of unintentional consumption but I for one would certainly prefer to avoid the issue – even if it means eating before or after an event or taking my own food to a party.
So give your pilots a little guidance on how to avoid unintentionally consuming an “edible”. Make sure they know the potential side effects of marijuana so they know if they’ve been dosed: sensory distortion, anxiety, slow reaction time, and depression or sleepiness after an initial high. Finally, take a look at your existing drug and alcohol policies and see if they include a non-punitive policy for reporting unintentional usage. I don’t quite know how the aviation industry will handle a case of inadvertent marijuana dosage but I have no doubt we’ll have to address this issue sooner rather than later. Give your pilots the tools they need to make good decisions.