On October 17, 2018 Canada became the first G7 country to legalize cannabis nationally. While many citizens rejoiced at the landmark news, most employers braced themselves for the unknown. The reality of a lack of effective directive legislation at a provincial level to help employers navigate employee cannabis use has left employers nervous for the future. However, it may not be as uncertain as it seems. Here are a few helpful reminders when considering employee cannabis use:

  1. Recreational cannabis can be added to your alcohol and drug policy. In the same way that employees are generally prohibited from drinking alcohol on the job, recreational cannabis use can also be deemed generally unacceptable.
  1. Employers can prohibit intoxication or impairment from any substance, including cannabis, in the workplace and while employees are performing work. When an employee is impaired in the workplace or is unable to perform the duties of his/her role, an employer can create a policy that provides for the employee to be properly managed and protects the safety of others.
  1. Employers need to distinguish between recreational and medicinal cannabis use. Any drug dependency or prescription drug use raises potential Human Rights issues, and the same is true for cannabis. Employers continue to have the duty to accommodate any employee who has a disability up to the point of undue hardship. That means that if you are concerned an employee may be a heavy cannabis user, or may be using prescription cannabis, ensure it is not due to a disability before taking action.
  1. Employers maintain the right to ensure a smoke-free work environment.

Ensuring your policies are up to date and your employees are trained on the expectation of the workplace are essential to a smooth transition to legalized cannabis.

If you need to update your policies or train your employees in light of the new legislation, please contact your RH lawyer directly, or our intake coordinator at 416 646 5169.