Legalization of Marijuana Presents New Challenges for Employers

With recreational marijuana now legal across Canada, employers have some new challenges to face when it comes to addressing marijuana in their workplace drug and alcohol policies.
Categories: Business Insights
Oct 17th, 2018 | By: CapriCMW

With recreational marijuana now legal across Canada, employers have some new challenges to face when it comes to addressing marijuana in their workplace drug and alcohol policies.

As an employer, you have the right to regulate non-medical use of marijuana in the workplace, including prohibiting marijuana use at work during work hours. Pre-existing WorkSafeBC regulations regarding impairment at work still applies - employees are prohibited from being impaired while working and employers are required to remove impaired workers from the workplace.

There remains confusion among employers on how to update drug and alcohol policies, particularly among workplaces that are not considered safety-sensitive. Employers are expected to provide a definition of impairment, detail their reporting process, describe the steps employee should take if they suspect someone is impaired and how they will protect privacy rights during the process.

Defining and detecting impairment may be the biggest challenge, as the signs differ from individual to individual. There is currently little consensus on measuring impairment from marijuana use, and drug testing is only permitted under very specific circumstances i.e. where employees are involved in safety-sensitive operations. 

See the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)'s whitepaper, Workplace Strategies: Risk of Impairment from Cannabis, for a detailed guide on establishing an impairment policy and program for marijuana.

Medical Marijuana Use

Employers still have a duty to accommodate for medical use and addiction. As per before, provincial and federal human rights legislation protects disabled employees who use marijuana for medical purposes. Employers have a duty to accommodate these employees similar to any other disabled employee with a prescription. However, this does not permit accommodated employees  to be impaired at work, smoke in the workplace, or compromise workplace safety.

For information and resources on insurance and risk management for your business, please contact a CapriCMW Risk Advisor.

 

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