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article imageAfghanistan Mission: Canadian Soldiers Prevented from Deploying Due to Drug Use

By Nathalie Caron     Sep 11, 2007 in World
An exclusive report from the CBC reveals that at least 250 Canadian troops where forced to remain in the country, instead of deploying for the Afghanistan mission, for testing positive for drug use.
Through an Access to Information request, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has learned that of the 6,800 soldiers tested for substance abuse, 250 were found to have traces of drugs in their bodies. No names were released.
The main culprit, which does not constitute a very big surprise, was marijuana usage. Some others used harder drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamine and amphetamines.
According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime’s 2007 World Drug report, Canada ranks first in industrialized nations for use of cannabis with “16.8 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 15 and 64 smoked pot or ingested one of its derivatives last year,” says another CBC article on the UN report.
“THC [Tetrahydrocannabinol] is absorbed into the gastrointestinal tract and metabolizes quickly. It is stored in the fat cells and continues to be absorbed by the bloodstream for up to 30 days after ingestion,” explains an Associated Content report.
Mandatory drug testing of Canadian troops started in September 2006. The results came from testing conducted between September 2006 and May 2007.
The CBC explains that some soldier were required to be tested twice after authorities found their urine sample to be diluted, “something the military views as an attempt to cheat the system.”
"You can't have people driving large, dangerous equipment, handling guns if they're abusing substances," said Senator Colin Kenny, chairman of the standing Senate committee on national security and defence.
Canadian Armed Forces Brig.-Gen. Ian Poulter told CBC: “It's a particular concern because we are in Afghanistan, they are in a combat situation and they have to make split-second decisions, life or death, and we need them to be able to do that without the influence of illicit drugs.”
The problem may be of more serious concern due to the fact that Canadian troops in Afghanistan are already limited and stopping troops from deploying means certain soldiers will be required to stay posted for longer.
The Canadian military plans on expanding testing to include surprise tests, which will touch all Canadian armed forced, not only those deploying to Afghanistan.
More about Drug use, Canadian armed forces, Afghanistan
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