Smoking Cannabis and Flying Drones

Don’t get high and fly!

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Sorry if you expected to read or watch something different.

Since cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17th, 2018, there has been many discussions about the effects on the workplace. You hear them talking about it on the radio every day on the way to work, and on the way home. You see it in the news, plastered all over the papers and on the internet. Yes, it is a new era. But, NO, you cannot fly drones (or planes, or any aircraft for that matter) while you are stoned!

There it is, condition #58 on our Special Flight Operations Certificate:

“No pilot shall operate the UAV system within eight hours after consuming an alcoholic beverage or while under the influence of alcohol or while using any drug that impairs the person’s faculties to the extent that the safety of the operation is endangered in any way.”

In French?

“Acun pilote ne doit exploiter un système d’UAV dans un délai de huit heurs après avoir consommé une boisson alcoolisée, s’il est en état d’ébriéte ou s’il a consommé une drogue qui affaiblit ses facultés au point de compromettre de quelque façon la sécurité de l’exploitation.”

It’s pretty simple!

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How does the rule affect recreational drone operators? Well, while there is nothing specifically mentioned in the Rules for Recreational Drones (for drones weighing less than 250g) or the Interim Order No. 9 Respecting the Use of Model Aircraft (for aircraft (including remotely piloted or “unmanned” aircraft, commonly referred to as drones) weighing more than 250g, up to 35kg) on Transport Canada’s website, just ask yourself… “Am I allowed to drive a car while high?” No! “Am I allowed to fly a plane while high?” No! Well, a “drone” is an aircraft, according to Transport Canada, and that means that even though you are not directly inside it, you are still the pilot of said aircraft, and you must have your faculties while at the helm!

On October 9th, Nicholas Robinson, Director General of Transport Canada, Civil Aviation sent out a general letter to the aviation community, including industry, management and labour organizations, operators, pilots, and professional associations regarding the new cannabis legislation in Canada.

"Cannabis use can cause immediate impairment but also causes longer-lasting impairment that may not be obvious to the user or to the people around them. Cannabis, like many other substances such as narcotics, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, etc., causes impairment that can affect the judgement and actions of members of a flight crew, including pilots. There is scientific consensus regarding the long-lasting effects of cannabis on individuals, even after impairment is longer felt… As a result, in the interest of aviation safety, Transport Canada does not intend to ease restrictions on the use of cannabis or other substances that cause impairment.”

Transport Canada has an existing regulatory framework in place concerning impairment. If you’ve decided to go and look into this, you may have stumbled across Section 602.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (SOR/96-433), which states that:

No person shall act as a crew member of an aircraft:

a) within eight hours after consuming an alcoholic beverage;
b) while under the influence of alcohol; or
c) while using any drug that impairs the person’s faculties to the extent that the safety of the aircraft or of persons on board the aircraft is endangered in any way.

“Hey, I recognize that from my SFOC!”

You cannot be impaired by alcohol, drugs, or even other form of impairment (such as fatigue, heat stress, etc.) while flying a drone. It can gravely affect the safety of others, as well as yourself.

It IS pretty simple!

So please don’t fly while high!

If you’d like to read a copy of the letter from the Director General of Transport Canada, click here.

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About the Author:

Who wrote this?

Matthew Johnson

Who is Matthew Johnson?

Matthew Johnson is the President and CEO of M3 Aerial Productions Inc.. He has been writing about the drone industry, training, sales and aerial services (mapping, photography, film, etc.), as well as guest blogging since 2015. He had the privilege of serving Canada in the Canadian Armed Forces for 10 years, and taught high school mathematics for 5 years before taking the helm at M3 Aerial Productions.

In 2018, Matthew was named one of the Top 50 Drone Visionaries by the Commercial UAV News, and has spoken at events across Canada, and around the world, including Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

What is M3 Aerial Productions?

M3 Aerial is a UAV / RPAS training, services, and retail sales vendor based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Since 2017, Matthew has personally trained hundreds of drone operators (UAV / RPAS pilots) across Canada, the United States, and Mexico; and has completed hundreds of operations over nearly 1000 flights.

UAV / RPAS Ground School training courses are offered all across Canada, and may be coming to a city/town near you very soon! Check out when our next courses are running here!

What do other people think of M3 Aerial Productions?

We’re glad you asked! Check out some of the Testimonials we have received from our clientele over the last little while! We are proud of our reputation in the industry, and stand by the quality of training that we provide!

If you have any other questions, please let us know! Send us an email at or visit our Contact Us section!

Matthew Johnson

I am a professional educator, serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces, UAV pilot, and owner of M3 Aerial Productions.

I am pleased to provide the community with amazing images they have never seen before, of their homes, farms, cottages, and more.