With the legalization of recreational cannabis to take place in July 2018, Canadian employers are interested in the use and effect on employees in their workplace. The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation has issued a report to provide some framework around marijuana legalization and the impacts on employers in Canada.
The framework states that 30 grams of cannabis may be able to be in possession of those over the age of 18 for recreational purposes only. Channels of marijuana distribution are mail orders, regulated storefronts as well as the ability to grow four marijuana plants in their residence.
There is concern among Canadian employers with the increased use of marijuana and the negative impact it may cause on health and safety in the workplace. This report highlighted that not only is there danger for the person under the influence, but also for everyone else in the workplace. This is especially true in industries that are “safety-sensitive”. These industries include manufacturing, health care, transportation and law enforcement as well as many others. The recommendations put forth by the task forth in relation to the federal government are the following:
• Further research on cannabis and impairment effects as well as considering implementing policies for occupational health and safety departments
• Work with existing bodies to further understand the effects of cannabis impairment and how it relates to occupational health and safety issues
• Work with provinces and territories as well as employers to develop policies regarding workplace impairment
Another cause of concern for employers is the issue of how and where adults use cannabis. Just as there are current restrictions on public smoking for tobacco, the task force recommends that those policies be extended for cannabis use. In order to have cohesive policies, the task force also recommends extending the current restriction on smoking tobacco in public.
The task force recommends employers to communicate their current policies on drug and alcohol to employees to ensure both parties are educated. Each province and territory has their own health and safety legislation as well as regulations regarding the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees. Human rights commissions whether federal or provincial have policies explaining how the testing of drug and alcohol must not discriminate. The task force suggests that testing in workplaces can only be done in order to satisfy bona fide occupational requirements. Cannabis use (non-medical) can be thought of the same as workplaces policies on alcohol. Ultimately employers have the right to prohibit the attendance at work if someone is impaired as well as prohibiting the use of marijuana during work hours.
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