With medical marijuana and the legalization of weed for recreational purposes in many states now common, more and more pilots want to know whether pilots can smoke weed or not.

In short, no, pilots cannot smoke weed. But let’s get into the specifics.

Why Can’t Pilots Smoke Weed If It Is Legal or Prescribed for Medical Use?

Whether weed is prescribed medically or is legal or not in your state makes no difference.

This can be confusing because during your medical application you are asked whether you have used an illegal substance within the past two years. While in your state you may legally be allowed to smoke weed for whatever purpose, it is considered a controlled substance under Federal Law.

The Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners states that a medical certificate must not be issued if any controlled substances are used: “This includes medical marijuana, even if legally allowed or prescribed under state law.”

You will also be asked whether you have been diagnosed with substance dependence or abuse, or have ever failed a drug test.

What Happens if Marijuana Use is Reported on a Medical Application?

First and foremost, as stated above, a medical certificate will not be issued.

Additionally, you will receive a letter from the FAA requesting that a urine drug test be administered within 48 hours as well as a statement describing past, present, and future drug use. While what happens after this may vary, you can expect to undergo a substance abuse evaluation, and drug and alcohol monitoring could even be required.

What About CBD Oil?

CBD oil can contain very small amounts of THC, which could show up on a drug test. While this is unlikely, it’s still a possibility and cannot be used as a defense against a positive drug test

What Are the Regulations For Flying Under the Influence of Marijuana?

FAR 91.17 states that no person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft “while using any drug that affects the person’s faculties in any way contrary to safety.”

If violated, your certificate may be suspended or revoked, or any application for a certificate or rating denied for up to one year.

Additionally, under Federal law, conviction of certain crimes related to controlled substances is grounds for lifetime revocation of an airman’s certificate.

What Are the Regulations For Carrying Marijuana in An Aircraft?

FAR 91.19 states that no person may operate a civil aircraft within the United States “with knowledge that” marijuana is carried in the aircraft.

The only exception is if “authorized by or under any Federal or State statute or by any Federal or State agency.”

If violated, your certificate may be suspended or revoked, or any application for a certificate or rating denied for up to one year.

Additionally, Under Federal law, conviction of certain crimes related to controlled substances is grounds for lifetime revocation of an airman’s certificate.

Drug Testing – Private vs. Commercial vs. Airline Pilots

Commercial and airline pilots are subject to random drug tests.

Private pilots are not subject to drug tests (the urine test during a medical is to test for possible indicators of diabetes or kidney disease), though if involved in an accident may have to undergo a drug test.

According to FAR 120.11, refusal to submit to a drug or alcohol test by a Part 61 certificate holder (sport pilot, recreational pilot, private pilot, commercial pilot, and air transport pilot) can result in:

  • Denial of an application for any certificate, rating, or authorization for a period of up to 1 year after the date of such refusal; and
  • Suspension or revocation of any certificate, rating, or authorization