Getting into the "Weeds": Understanding the Impact to Date of Cannabis' Legalization on the Workplace

A presentation by NEUMAN THOMPSON

Wednesday, November 7, 2018
12:00 - 1:30 PM MST
Cost: $50 including GST / attendee
Click Here to Register


To provide further guidance with respect to navigating the implementation of the Cannabis Act and its impacts on the Canadian workplace, Neuman Thompson will be hosting a 60-minute webinar designed for business owners, managers, supervisors, and human resource personnel on November 7, 2018.

Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions to our presenting lawyers in a 30-minute Q&A session following the presentation of the webinar.

Summary Description: As of October 17, 2018, the sale of certain cannabis products will become legal across Canada. While employers have been faced with issues regarding cannabis for years, legalization may bring some of these issues to the forefront. Ron T. Smith and Gabriel Joshee-Arnal will walk through those cannabis related issues, with a particular focus on the issues and questions that employers have faced in the weeks following legalization.

To RSVP, please register here by clicking REGISTER NOW!

This presentation will provide general legal information but is not intended to replace legal advice. For current legal advice and solutions tailored to your unique circumstances, please consult with us directly.

Is Your Business Ready for the Cannabis Act?
Top 5 Issues for Employers to Consider

On June 21, 2018, Bill C-46 received royal assent, which will result in the Cannabis Act (SC 2018, c 16) officially coming into force on Wednesday, October 17, 2018.

In case you haven't yet considered how the legalization of recreational cannabis and related cannabis products in Canada will impact your business...don't panic! Below we have outlined several issues for employers to consider in advance of October 17th.

Top 5 Issues for Employers to Consider Before Legalization

1. Workplace Policies

To best prepare for the legalization of possession and use of recreational cannabis, an employer should implement or update workplace policies that address the related potential implications.

An effective and clearly communicated policy results in clear identification of employee expectations and a reduced risk of safety or performance-related workplace incidents.

2. Impairment

It is important to note that not all cannabis (eg. patches, concentrates, edibles, cigarettes, etc.) products are the same in form, composition, or THC concentration. THC is the psychoactive substance contained in cannabis which causes impairment and therefore presents the greatest potential for safety and performance concerns.

Cannabis differs from alcohol in that there is currently no universally-accepted "test" for impairment, as the level of THC present in someone's body does not necessarily correlate with that person's level of impairment. This means that managers and supervisors need to be appropriately trained to recognize the signs of impairment in an employee and to know how to appropriately address different situations.

3. Testing

It is important to note that the legalization of recreational cannabis does not mean that the law with respect to drug testing in the workplace has changed. Random drug testing, for example, remains permissible only in very specific circumstances.

Though random testing is challenging, there are other times when the law is much clearer in allowing testing. In particular, the law regarding employees occupying safety-sensitive positions - whose role is such that impairment could cause a catastrophic incident or injury - is much more permissive when it comes to testing where it's reasonably likely the employee is impaired.

Employers will need to be able to properly identify those positions and circumstances which may require testing be undertaken, and to develop protocols accordingly.

4. Accommodation

Under the Cannabis Act, access to cannabis for prescribed medical purposes will continue for those who are authorized by their healthcare practitioner.

Pursuant to human rights legislation, employers continue to have a duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship. Employers will need to be able to appropriately distinguish recreational cannabis users, authorized medicinal users, and those users who have a diagnosed cannabis dependency requiring treatment (a recognized disability requiring accommodation). This may include an employer needing to be aware of the signs and symptoms of addiction.

5. Communication

In conjunction with, or in the absence of, a workplace policy, it is important for an employer to clearly outline and communicate to its employees some general workplace rules and restrictions with respect to cannabis, including recreational use and possession on employer property. This communication is particularly important where an employer is making changes to its relevant workplace policies.

Some employees may also have misconceptions about the nature of the Cannabis Act or their associated "rights" with respect to consumption, possession, and/or impairment in the workplace. It is important to note that cannabis usage is also subject to regulation by individual municipalities, so it is important to be familiar with your local by-laws.

Employers should be ready to clearly communicate the facts regarding legalized use and possession to employees, and its expectations of them. These rules and expectations might, for example, take a form closely mirroring those relating to the use and possession of alcohol.

For further questions regarding the Cannabis Act or for support in drafting or updating a workplace policy that addresses the implications of the legalization of cannabis, please contact any member of the Neuman Thompson team directly.