Cannabis & Work
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According to Health Canada the number of medical marijuana users will increase from by several hundred thousand by 2024. Approximately 60% of them will be employed, requiring those employees to have some sort of authorization to use medicinal cannabis in the workplace. Without doubt, failure of employers to deal with cannabis usage in the workplace will result in human rights cases being tabled under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Since Canada’s legalization of medical marijuana in 2001, the country has experienced a significant surge in the number of registered users. data reveals that client registrations have surpassed 235,000 as of September 2017. As the trend continues, more employees will require authorization from their companies to use prescribed medical marijuana while at work. These businesses need to take proactive measures and meet legal obligations for these employees.
The marked increase of legal cannabis users in North America creates new concerns regarding workplace safety; employers must face these challenges. New Canadian laws require companies to establish policies and accommodate cannabis use in the workplace, while avoiding the possibility of accidents due to impaired employees.
According to a conducted by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) in 2017, almost 50 percent of its 650 members do not believe existing policies adequately cover potential workplace issues related to the legalization of marijuana. Without a clear legal definition for “impairment” — or established legalities regarding whether employers can test workers for cannabis use without violating their human rights — businesses need guidance.
The TCN Solution
TCN is committed to helping both employers and workers gain a comprehensive understanding of the complex issues related to medical marijuana and workplace safety:
- As more Canadians turn to cannabis as an alternative pain management therapy, this is an issue that both small business and large corporations need to address.
- Employers and employees need to look, understand, and (when necessary) update their policies to deal with the legalities of cannabis as a medically prescribed drug in the workplace. Employers have a duty to accommodate their employees’ right to medicate. If companies perform random drug tests, considerations have to be made.
- TCN has legal experts who employers can consult with on their legal obligations and responsibilities.
- TCN has medical professionals who can educate employers on the parameters of effective and appropriate cannabis use, which may serve as reference in drafting their policies.
- TCN’s medical staff will help employers and employees determine the appropriateness of medical marijuana as a treatment option on a case to case basis.
- As part of its assistance, TCN can delve into the issues regarding CBD/THC ratios, ingestion types, and treatment options.
- When prescribing cannabis medication during working hours, physicians must consider the employee’s ability to function in the workplace. A medical professional must consider if an employee is competent to perform their job responsibility and safety while taking cannabis. Certain job responsibilities (such as driving or operating heavy equipment) may make cannabis consumption impossible.
- By decreasing inflammation and pain, it is possible that medical marijuana could improve (rather than diminish) employee performance, depending upon the type of cannabis prescribed and medical condition being addressed.
- TCN will provide guidelines on when — and how — employees should disclose to their prescription for cannabis use to their Human Resources department. (For instance, employees are required to communicate their use of prescribed cannabis in advance if companies conduct random drug tests.)
- Like any medical prescription, employees must always have on hand documentation (e.g. Health Canada registration certificate, as well as the cannabis container with relevant medical information printed on it) showing they’re legally permitted to receive cannabis treatment.
- Cannabis purchased from a storefront dispensary may not qualify as prescribed medicine. Individuals using cannabis should always purchase medical marijuana from a Health Canada certified Licensed Producer.