Human Resources

Recreational Marijuana in the WorkPlace: 5 things your need to know

It was with a mix of excitement and dread that I witnessed Canada’s incredibly cool foray into the world of legalized recreational marijuana. As a Human Resources Professional it was tricky not to wallow in the thought of the giant pile of paperwork this Cannabis Legislation is going to bring. After all, there will be varied responses to the legislation; some employees will celebrate on a high note, alternately there will be those for whom October 17th will barely register as anything more than another crisp fall day.

To help you navigate this uncertain period here is a list of 5 things that will help clarify what you, as a professional, can do to mitigate the uncertainty.

  1. Recognize that recreational and medicinal cannabis are two separate issues:We have been dealing with medicinal marijuana for some time now. Medicinal marijuana will be discussed in a  separate post, but it is important to note that regardless of whether the cannabis use is medicinal or recreational it can still cause impairment. This is also applies to other medications, and for that reason we have to look at this legislation from the perspective of impairment.
  2. Insure your organization has a policy regarding the use of  recreational marijuana:When a company makes the consequences of any action abundantly clear in a concise manner, it makes your job easier, and creates a transparency that your employees can understand. If your organization already has a policy regarding alcohol use while at work, it can provide an excellent guideline for marijuana use. You may want to make it even more stringent than you alcohol policy but the key term here is “recreational”, and as an employer you have that entitlement. If it comes to light that an employee has an addiction to marijuana the issue then becomes disability management. This opens a whole other can of worms; for the purposes of this article we are only looking at purely voluntary recreational use of cannabis.
  3. Circulate your policy:Just having the policy will not be enough. As October 17 approaches make sure all of your employees read and sign a confirmation indicating they have read and understand the policy.
  4. Recognize this is a Health and Safety issue: If you have employees who work in a safety sensitive position it is crucial that they not be impaired while performing their duties. This can be be tricky for several reasons.
      • There are no hard and fast tests to determine if and when your subject has smoked or consumed cannabis.
      • it affects different people in different ways. Unlike alcohol where one can generally assume that a 95lb female would not be able to drink as much as a 200lb man without becoming impaired, the affect of cannabis on a person cannot be so easily generalized.
  5.  Educate your management and supervisory staff to recognize impaired behaviour:as a result of the previous point recognition of impairment is the only effective way to ensure that your employee, their coworkers and the feral public are safe. There is an excellent course provided by CCHS that can help your staff determine impairment in an employee. Impairment and Cannabis in the Workplace

Canada’a legalization of recreational Marijuana has gained a significant amount of attention from many sectors of our society. Economically speaking, this legislation could add an element of profitability to my rather depressed Province that is badly needed. Socially speaking, the use of this drug will be normalized terrifying parents who will be faced with this added pressure to their children’s lives. Regardless of all of these concerns, Canadians have over the years taken changes in stride and there is no doubt that this change in our social fabric will be no different.

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