HR 101: Cannabis Legalization

It’s official! Canada has legalized Cannabis as of October 17th, 2018 through bill C-45. Here is what you need to know as an HR professional or from an organizational standpoint to ensure you are prepared for the changes from the recent legalization of Cannabis in Canada.

Medical Marijuana

Yes, cannabis is legal, however, patients can still be prescribed medical marijuana to treat a variety of ailments. Employees that are prescribed medical marijuana still fall under the area of an employer’s duty to accommodate. To ensure that recreational users don’t take advantage of this you need to have a clear HR policy when it comes to usage. Employers still have the right to enact disciplinary procedures for any employee who is found impaired on the job.

A Safe Place To Work

Employers need to maintain a safe working environment especially in industries and workplaces that are safety-sensitive. Using cannabis has the potential to cause impairment, which, in industries such as public transit or construction, could result in not only unsafe conditions for employees but for those around them too. For these instances, an employer may choose to invoke a zero-tolerance marijuana policy for all employees. To avoid any discrimination claims the employer must have substantial evidence to support that the zero-tolerance policy is a bona fide occupational requirement.


What Does Impairment Mean?

While an employee may partake in using cannabis in their off hours it doesn’t mean that they are impaired on the job. It has been suggested that employees may not use cannabis for four hours prior to starting work (similar to the guidelines for driving) and to treat recreational cannabis usage similarly to alcohol usage.

Common signs of impairment include bloodshot eyes, a distinct smell, and unusual behaviour (i.e. the munchies).

TL;DR For Your Employees

  • Don’t come to work smelling like marijuana.

  • Don’t consume marijuana during work hours.

  • Don’t consume marijuana for at least 4 hours prior to starting work.

  • In safety-sensitive work environments, a zero-tolerance policy could be invoked.

  • Know your company’s policy especially if your workplace is not safety-sensitive.

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Keira RoetsComment