Legalized cannabis is fast-approaching in Canada, yet many BC businesses are not ready for legal marijuana. People have varying opinions on the subject, but despite your own personal views, Canadians voted for a government that put the legalization of marijuana as a major part of its platform. The goal is to regulate a massive and unregulated industry that all Canadians can agree generates a lot income. This new legislation is designed to generate tax revenue, create new jobs (legal ones!) and eliminate the cost of enforcing a law that many people see as not necessary.
There is a real lack of information available to employers and it is resulting in many businesses using outdated and anecdotal information. It is important to prepare your business, including educating yourself and your employees.
Marijuana products come in many forms, and have either recreational or medical uses. It’s important to understand the difference, and the level of impairment (if any) associated with the various marijuana products. Cannabis creams or salves for example, are a topical treatment used to treat pain and is vastly different then lighting up a joint. Medical marijuana is already legal in Canada, and its use is treated the same as any other pharmaceutical drug. Recreational marijuana use is a new challenge for employers.
Impairment in the workplace is a major concern among BC business owners. Understandably so, employees are not allowed to be intoxicated with alcohol while at work, and the same goes for marijuana use. If you want to conduct drug screening, you have to consider the many legal issues as well. Human rights laws protect the privacy of employees and you should seek legal counsel before issuing any new policies. Also urine and saliva tests do not indicate active impairment, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active ingredient in marijuana and can take 24-48 hours to clear the system.
Writing a new policy is only half the battle, enforcing and administrating it is another challenge. Early communication with employees is the most effective way of creating a positive work atmosphere for everyone.
Many companies routinely throw parties that involve liquor and often result in impairment, now companies will have to contend with recreational marijuana use as well. How do you allow for that in your company? Employers have to make the call one way or another, and the result can be controversial.
Although this legislation has been expected for more than a year, many BC businesses are not ready for legal marijuana. If you are concerned about legal cannabis and your business, we encourage you to speak to one of our employee retention experts!