Keeping it clean in Canada: Workplace implications of legalising cannabis Keeping it clean in Canada: Workplace implications of legalising cannabis

Keeping it clean in Canada: Workplace implications of legalising cannabis
20 Nov 2018

 

The Cannabis Act came into force in Canada last month, both legalising and decriminalising the drug for the first time.

The Act provides a legal framework for controlling the production, sale, distribution and possession of marijuana, while also giving adults access to legal forms of the herb. As a result, is important to understand what the legislation means for your employees.

Although cannabis is now legal, it does not give staff the right to come to work with impaired senses, or even to have, or use, it in the office. The Act includes an amendment to the Non-Smokers’ Health Act (NSHA), which prohibits people from either smoking or vaping it in federally-regulated workplaces and on certain modes of transportation to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke.

New policies 

Canadian employers now have the right to set rules and policies around the non-medical use of cannabis in the workplace. Most companies have already introduced drug and alcohol policies that prohibit the use of restricted substances at work and prevent employees from working if their senses are impaired.

But these policies will now need to be updated to include language that is similar to the current rules used for alcohol. A clear definition of what constitutes “impairment” will also be required. As it is currently not acceptable to be intoxicated in the workplace, it should not be appropriate to be high either.

Policies should also include the proper protocols and potential repercussions for employees who fail to abide by the rules. Once existing policies are updated, staff should be asked to review them, before acknowledging that they understand and will stick to them. 

Medical marijuana 

Employers have a duty to accommodate the needs of disabled employees or those with other physical or mental impairments who are prescribed medical marijuana. These staff members should be accommodated in the workplace in the same way as someone who has been given a medical drug prescription.

But it is also worth noting that a prescription for medical marijuana does not entitle employees to:

  • Be impaired at work;
  • Compromise their own safety, or the safety of others;
  • Smoke in the workplace;
  • Take unapproved absences.

These rules should likewise be added to your new workplace policy.

Health plan options 

As cannabis how now been legalised, insurance providers will want to include it as a covered drug, if they have not done so already. This coverage is likely to be similar to any other prescription drug. Employers will also need to decide if they want to add this to their group plan coverage.

 Lisa Wilcox

Lisa Wilcox is senior director of client services at TMF Canada. She oversees the delivery of client services in TMF Canada’s core business lines of accounting and tax, corporate secretarial and HR and payroll. Her background is primarily in the financial services field and she has a BA in International Relations and a LLB (Bachelor of Law).

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The Cannabis Act came into force in Canada last month, both legalising and decriminalising the drug for the first time.

The Act provides a legal framework for controlling the production, sale, distribution and possession of marijuana, while also giving adults access to legal forms of the herb. As a result, is important to understand what the legislation means for your employees.

Although cannabis is now legal, it does not give staff the right to come to work with impaired senses, or even to have, or use, it in the office. The Act includes an amendment to the Non-Smokers’ Health Act (NSHA), which prohibits people from either smoking or vaping it in federally-regulated workplaces and on certain modes of transportation to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke.

New policies 

Canadian employers now have the right to set rules and policies around the non-medical use of cannabis in the workplace. Most companies have already introduced drug and alcohol policies that prohibit the use of restricted substances at work and prevent employees from working if their senses are impaired.

But these policies will now need to be updated to include language that is similar to the current rules used for alcohol. A clear definition of what constitutes “impairment” will also be required. As it is currently not acceptable to be intoxicated in the workplace, it should not be appropriate to be high either.

Policies should also include the proper protocols and potential repercussions for employees who fail to abide by the rules. Once existing policies are updated, staff should be asked to review them, before acknowledging that they understand and will stick to them. 

Medical marijuana 

Employers have a duty to accommodate the needs of disabled employees or those with other physical or mental impairments who are prescribed medical marijuana. These staff members should be accommodated in the workplace in the same way as someone who has been given a medical drug prescription.

But it is also worth noting that a prescription for medical marijuana does not entitle employees to:

  • Be impaired at work;
  • Compromise their own safety, or the safety of others;
  • Smoke in the workplace;
  • Take unapproved absences.

These rules should likewise be added to your new workplace policy.

Health plan options 

As cannabis how now been legalised, insurance providers will want to include it as a covered drug, if they have not done so already. This coverage is likely to be similar to any other prescription drug. Employers will also need to decide if they want to add this to their group plan coverage.

 Lisa Wilcox

Lisa Wilcox is senior director of client services at TMF Canada. She oversees the delivery of client services in TMF Canada’s core business lines of accounting and tax, corporate secretarial and HR and payroll. Her background is primarily in the financial services field and she has a BA in International Relations and a LLB (Bachelor of Law).

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Canada Revenue Agency charges tax protestors with fraud

Canada's uncollected tax debt hits $44bn

Canada's Justice Dept trials AI system to help decide on tax cases

 

 

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