Marijuana in the Workplace

What does the legalization of marijuana mean for Canadian Employers?

1. The Current Legal Statue of Marijuana:
Today, the possession, production, and trafficking of marijuana is still illegal in Canada, as per Schedule II of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

2. Government Announcement:
The Government of Canada has recently announced its intention to:
i) Legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to Cannabis for non-medical purposes;
ii) Restrict access of marijuana of youth; and
iii) Stop criminals from profiting from illicit marijuana trade

3. Why is the Federal Government looking to legalize and regulate access to marijuana?
The Government states that the strict production, distribution, and sale of marijuana will:
i) Enhance public safety;
ii) Better protect the public’s health;
iii) Make it less profitable for drug dealers and growers; and
iv) Make it less accessible to young people.

4. The Duty to Accommodate:
By law, Ontario employers are required to accommodate employees with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship. Employees that use medical marijuana or employees that are addicted to marijuana are to be accommodated.
Employers should be leery of making stereotypical comments/assumptions about an employee’s ability to do their job when, they have been prescribed medical marijuana.

5. Limits on the duty to accommodate:
The use of medical marijuana DOES NOT allow an employee to:
1. Be impaired at work;
2. Compromise his/her safety;
3. Compromise the safety of others;
4. Smoke in the workplace;
5. Have unexcused absences; and/or
6. Show up late for work.

6. Safety in the Workplace
Employers are also required to ensure safety in the workplace.

7. Workplace Policies:
With the upcoming changes, employers will likely need to set specific policies regarding the use of marijuana in the workplace.
Be careful, a zero-tolerance policy may interfere with an employer’s duty to accommodate, as it can cause discrimination against employees who have been prescribed medical marijuana. A zero-tolerance policy may be allowed in the safety-sensitive sector.

8. Suzanne Desrosiers Professional Corporation:
For assistance in updating your employment policies and procedures and/or providing training to staff members, please contact Suzanne Desrosiers today, at suzanne@sdlawtimmins.com or 705-268-6492.

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