Health and Safety Advice – Drug Policy: Marijuana at Work

  • Workplace Health & Safety
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

How will Canada’s proposed marijuana legislation affect small business owners?

On April 13, 2017, the Federal Government of Canada introduced Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and substances (the Cannabis Act). The proposed Cannabis Act intends to legalize and regulate the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana. If passed, the changes will come into effect by July 2018. As an employer, you might be wondering how marijuana will affect your workplace. When it comes to managing your employees, dealing with drugs at work can put you in a difficult spot. To address the issue of employee drug use while on the clock, an important first step is to have the proper policies in place.

Do you have a drug policy?

There are many ways to approach the topic of drugs at work. Start by revisiting your existing workplace policies and procedures. Do you have a drug policy in place? Whether you are updating current company policies or starting from scratch, ensure that you address these questions:

  • What is legal?
  • What is your duty to accommodate?
  • What is expected from your employees?
  • What is the disciplinary process?

Having a drug policy allows you to reference the expectations and workplace regulations that your staff agree to at the start of employment. This can be placed in an employee handbook, or recorded in a signed agreement. Remember, expectations for workplace conduct remains the same for drugs, as it does alcohol. The requirement is that employees are prepared to work productively, effectively, and in fulfillment of their job responsibilities.

When setting expectations, communication is key.

If you foresee marijuana at work becoming a problem, plan ahead. Speak to your employees if and when amendments to any workplace policy are coming and what this means in terms of expectations. Communication is key. Will an employee be reprimanded for having weed a work, regardless if their intent was after hours’ usage? What will the repercussions of this be? Starting the conversation now will allow you to avoid any misunderstandings surrounding drugs at work in the future.

In the news: How the Ontario Government plans to regulate legalized cannabis

In response to the proposed Cannabis Act, the Ontario Government has announced plans to control substance use and retail in the province. The focus is to protect youth and promote public health. The proposal includes:

  • Minimum age requirements to purchase recreational cannabis – 19 years old
  • Possession limitations – 30 grams for adults; 5 grams for youth under 18 years of age
  • Prevention and harm reduction support through program endorsements and training
  • Cannabis use restrictions to only permit usage in private residences
  • Safety measurements by shutting down dispensaries and adding enforcement support

The Ontario Government has stated that a key part of the province’s integrated awareness campaign is to ensure workplace safety is addressed. The development of resources to guide employers is a work in progress. If you have questions about the new legislation or are looking for advice on how to talk to your employees about the forthcoming changes, call Employer Line to speak to an HR expert over the phone or ask a question online. We offer employer advice and HR support that can help you make this transition a smooth process. Our advice line is available 24/7 – 1 (833) 247-3652.  Let’s talk.

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