Canada has legal cannabis and other countries will likely follow suit soon. Advocates for legal cannabis site the potential health benefits and a positive impact for many involved in the criminal justice system due to cannabis. While for those in Canada legalization represents a certain level of freedom, there are still restrictions and regulations that everyone should keep in mind before they consume cannabis in any form.
While legal cannabis means the number of cannabis related crimes and arrests should dramatically fall, what about employers and jobs? Some are asking the question; how are employers handling the legalization of cannabis? In Canada many are treating legal cannabis much like they do alcohol. It comes down to liability. Employers are responsible for providing a safe work environment, and employees have a responsibility to come to work fully functional and not impaired. Typically it is not a good idea to come to the office or work site after having three or four cocktails, likewise it’s probably not a good idea to show up after taking consuming marijuana. GZ.com talks about the issue more in depth below.
For office jobs, the message is that essentially, nothing has changed: You’re expected to show up sharp enough to perform on the job. Unless you have a legitimate prescription for medicinal marijuana, the workplace does not need to accommodate your cannabis habit.
No. [The company] is responsible for the well-being of all our people in the workplace – intoxication or impairment in the workplace is unacceptable and legalization of recreational cannabis does not change that. Impairment or intoxication is also strictly forbidden while operating any [company] owned motor vehicles.
Recreational cannabis is treated like any other controlled substance, such as alcohol, and the purchase and consumption (in all forms) both publicly and privately is regulated by Provincial Legislation and the Cannabis Act.
Finally, because so many Canadian jobs require travel to the US, the memo notes that employees are responsible for staying compliant with US immigration laws about both personal use of marijuana and any investments in a cannabis company. “This applies for business travel to other countries as well,” it says.
This is about liability, not morality, he says. In some workplaces, rather than have an accident occur because a policy was too lenient, a company would rather have employees take action against an organization to prove that its policy is overly prohibitive, perhaps a violation of a person’s rights and freedoms. Then an outside decision-maker might force management to loosen restrictions.
For employers, firing an employee over impairment isn’t as straight forward as one may think. While an employer may have cause for termination, if an employee is dealing with a substance abuse issue, the employee could have cause to bring a labor dispute relating to medical and or mental health discrimination. It’s important for employers to review their employer’s protection liability along with their worker’s compensation policies to determine their level of risk in these instances. If you do not have one or both of these policies, reach out to Eric Rahn of S2S Insurance Specialists and he can help get you protected.