Navigating the HIGH Seas; The Truth About Marijuana On Yachts

coaching Jul 16, 2018


Whether you like it or not, it’s a topic of much debate, particularly as recent years have led to a number of U.S. states and other countries decriminalizing the drug -- at least in certain circumstances.

In Canada, pot is already legal for medicinal use, and will become legal for recreational use in the fall of 2018.

The U.S. states of Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, and several others have made the drug legal for recreational use, while even more allow it for medical use.

But it remains illegal according to Federal Law, leaving many would-be users confused and unsure of how to proceed.



In the U.S., since Marine Law falls under Federal jurisdiction, this means that the drug is still a no-go.

Across Europe and the Caribbean, laws vary from tough enforcement to legal use, or essentially ignored laws that prohibit the drug in theory, but rarely in practice.

And while the consequences can be severe for crew if they’re found with drugs onboard, they can be equally bad for the yacht owner - with the possibility of significant fines or even seizure of the yacht.


Captains can lose their license if found on a yacht with drugs onboard.


Unfortunately, with the introduction of various regulations worldwide, the rules onboard can sometimes seem a bit fuzzy. 

For example:

  • If crew members have authorization for medical marijuana for health purposes, what are they to do?
  • What about drug use on shore?
  • How should crew react if they observe the guests bringing on or using marijuana while they’re onboard? 


The answers vary, but the consensus is that crew members should take a zero-tolerance approach to their own use or possession of the drug - even if they are otherwise legally able to possess.


In 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard even issued a specific bulletin, reminding crew that as they are serving in “safety-sensitive positions in the maritime transportation industry”, any drug use is prohibited.



It’s a trickier call when it comes to guest use, although the laws are still clear.

Charter agreements strictly prohibit drugs on board, and Captains reserve the right to take guests back to shore if they bring restricted drugs on board.

Many guests may feel entitled to bring drugs onboard, or come from a state or country where drug use is legal; thus, it may not even occur to them that they are putting the entire voyage in jeopardy with their possession.


Crew members who find themselves aware of guest drug use should absolutely notify their captain.


Here at FreshYacht, we know the topic may seem confusing, as so many of our aspiring crew members come from different countries and different legal backgrounds.


So our guidance to you is clear -- stay away from marijuana if you want to be superyacht crew.


We’ve already talked about the importance of reputation and keeping your name clear - and this is critical whether it’s about too much partying, or using drugs.


Make it an easy call for someone to hire you, and keep any recreational drug use out of your yachting life.


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