Inside This Issue:

  • learn about the government's responsibilities for marijuana in the workplace
  • learn about potential impacts on the workplace
  • learn about employee and employer's rights and responsibility for medical marijuana 
  • ask yourself the provided questions to see if updates need to be made to your policies

Marijuana in the Workplace

Cannabis Legalization and Regulation - Cannabis Act - Bill C-45

Cannabis has been legal in Canada since October 17, 2018.

The Act creates a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada.  The Act has three main goals:
  1. Keep cannabis out of the hands of youth
  2. Keep profits from criminals
  3. Protect public health and safety by allowing adults to safe, legal cannabis regulations.  Public education efforts will raise awareness about safety measures and any potential health risks.

The Federal Government's responsibility is to set: 

  • industry-wide rules and standards, including
    • types of cannabis products available for sale
    • packaging and labelling requirements
    • standardising serving sizes and potency
    • prohibitions on the use of certain ingredients
The Provinces and Territories are responsible for:
  • developing, implementing, maintaining, and enforcing systems to oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis.  Their own safety measures can be added, such as:
    • increasing the minimum age in their province
    • creating additional rules for growing cannabis at home, i.e. lowering the number of plants per residence
    • restricting where adults can consume cannabis
The municipalities are responsible for:
  • enforcing prohibitions on public use, improper sales, improper production and illegal dispensaries, similar to bars and the public sale of alcohol at events
Employers are responsible for:
  • training
  • safety standards
  • policies
Similar to the risks, challenges and issues surrounding alcohol use and intoxication in the workplace, the use of recreational and medical cannabis will pose similar but distinct issues for employers.
Workplace Impacts
Two key areas that could affect the workplace are productivity and safety.  

People who are under the influence of marijuana have impaired coordination, concentration, and judgement and the potential for drowsiness.

  • absenteeism
  • employee turnover
  • making mistakes on the job
  • decrease in work
  • drop in moral

When it comes to safety, being impaired by marijuana while on the job poses a three-fold risk:
  • the safety of the impaired employee
  • the safety of other staff
  • depending on the business or industry, the safety of the public
  • for example, operating machinery, driving, using power tools, working in confined spaces, working in health care systems, handling chemicals or hazardous materials

Medical Marijuana: Rights and Responsibilities

Marijuana is used medicinally for the following properties:
  • relief of pain
  • relief of nausea and vomiting
  • increase in appetite
  • reduction of muscle spasms
May be prescribed as a therapy for the following:
  • arthritis
  • cancer
  • chronic pain
  • Crohn's disease
  • migraines
  • glaucoma
  • eating disorders
A medical marijuana prescription is not necessarily a free pass to use marijuana at work.  At the same time, employers have a duty to treat it like any other prescribed drug or therapy, and accommodate their employees' need to use it.
The Employee:

  • to use marijuana in accordance with a physician-issued prescription
  • to have the disability/condition accommodated at work

  • to not be impaired at work
  • to comply with workplace policies regarding smoking and drug use on the job
  • to comply with local and federal statues and legislation
  • to disclose medical marijuana use to employer if working in a safety-sensitive position
The Employer:

  • to be told of an employee's medical marijuana use if the employee is in a safety-sensitive position
  • to prohibit impairment on the job
  • to ensure a safe working environment for all employees
  • to accommodate an employee's disability/condition unless it causes undue hardship
  • to comply with local and federal statues and legislation
Medical marijuana may be governed by multiple pieces of legislation, such as human rights codes, occupation health and safety laws, and marijuana access legislation.  It may not affect your workplace at the moment but what if a problem occurs.  This might be the time to review your policies.  Below are some helpful questions to see if you need to develop or revise your current policies.
  • Do you have a Drug and Alcohol Policy?
  • If so, what does it say specifically about using marijuana at work or being under the influence?
  • What are the consequences of violating the policy?
  • What are the conditions of continued employment by someone who has violated the policy?
  • Do you have a Disciplinary Policy?
  • What are the steps outlined in the policy?
  • Do you have a drug-testing policy?
  • Does it allow for "testing for cause" when an employee exhibits behaviour that suggests drug use?
  • Do you have a Scent Free Policy?
Always check your local municipal by-laws for regulations on smoking, vaping and recreational cannabis to help you develop your policies.

Did You Know?

  • Any public place you are not allowed to smoke cigarettes you are not allowed to smoke marijuana.
  • There are 4 marijuana plants allowed in each residence for personal use.
  • You are allowed 30 grams equivalent to 60 joints for personal use at home, must be in a locked compartment.
  • Transportation of marijuana is governed by the same laws as the transportation of alcohol.
  • One joint is approximately one gram of marijuana.
  • Marijuana is the most commonly used recreational drug in the world.
  • Marijuana comes from the plant "Cannabis sativa L"
  • There are actually 113 different chemical compounds found in marijuana.
  • Two most well-known are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), this is the component that is associated with getting, "high and feeling relaxed" as it has a psychoactive affect and CBD (cannabidiol) which is known for more medicinal, and topical uses
  • Common uses for THC are relaxation, appetite stimulant, painkiller and anti-emetic.
  • Common uses for CBD are anti-anxiety, anti-convulsent, painkiller and anti-inflammatory.
Important to Note
This article was written for the Northern Networks by Wendy Olson.
Information was take from the following resources to write this eblast:
  • Canadian Training Resources Ltd. - training January 25, 2019

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