How Companies Can Navigate Their Employees Use of Legal Cannabis

While legal cannabis means the number of cannabis related crimes and arrests should dramatically fall, what about employers and their employees? Some are asking the question; how are companies handling the legalization of cannabis? 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 not a good idea to show up to work after 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.


The company is responsible for the well-being of all its 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.

Summary

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 coverage along with their Workers' Compensation policies to determine their level of risk in these instances. If you do not have one or both of these policies, contact Eric Rahn at eric@s2sinsurance.com or schedule a free 15-minute consultation by clicking here.