Recreational marijuana is set to become legal across Canada next summer, leaving employers a limited time to prepare for the coming changes. Preparing your business for the legalization of marijuana in BC is important with the Cannabis Act expected to take effect. Officially this Act is supposed to come into force on July 1st, 2018, however there is still a second reading in the House of Commons before that happens.
The purpose of this Act is to deter illegal activities surrounding the sale of Marijuana, reduce the burden it causes on the criminal justice system and create a new source of tax revenue for Canada to help pay for health care and other social costs. It is important to remember that until the law takes effect, it is still an illegal substance. Also, no matter its legality, it still causes impairment and employees should not be impaired at work or while operating a motor vehicle.
So when preparing your business for the legalization of Marijuana in BC, here is one of the ways this new law can affect your enterprise:
Potential Impairment in the Workplace
Employers should prepare for potential impairment in the workplace. Most companies already have policies in place for impairment and these aren’t likely to change. Generally speaking, no employee should be impaired by any substance while at work.
However, in the same way that it is acceptable for an employee to be on strong opioids following a car accident or broken bone, the response to using Marijuana for its medical purposes should be similar or at least measured. Of course, no matter what the drug, if there is substance abuse taking place than perhaps an employee assistance program or short-term disability leave may be the most appropriate response.
Employers are allowed to reach out to an employee’s physician in the case of a medical marijuana prescription. Of course an employee’s diagnosis is confidential, you are allowed to ask when the employee should consume Marijuana, how much, in what format and how it will affect their work performance.
Employers should adjust their work impairment policies relating to alcohol to include cannabis, this means managers should be trained about what to observe when they suspect an employee of being impaired.
Preparing your business for the legalization of Marijuana in BC is one of the many upcoming legislation changes that could affect your business.
If you have questions about how this new legislation can affect your current employee health care plan, contact the Schueler Group Benefits team at 778.477.6700 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help!