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5 things you need to know for your marijuana policy

Cannabis plant

Marijuana legalization is slated to take effect this summer. This impending legislation leaves a lot of workplaces vulnerable, if they don't yet have policies in place.

"If you're an employer, it's reasonable to be worried," says Dan Demers, Senior Manager, Strategic Business Development, for CannAmm Occupational Testing Services. "There are a lot of unknowns and a lot at stake."

An active member of the International Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association, Dan frequently leads workshops and seminars to help workplaces build and manage a drug-free workplace.

5 things you need to know

  1. Marijuana is much more potent than it was even a decade ago and there's no consensus on a clear, safe limit. This makes it hard to measure and compare which means there is no consistent standard.
  2. Marijuana and alcohol affect the body differently and require separate approaches.
  3. What people do on their own time matters. Marijuana affects critical cognitive functions in various ways and these impacts may linger for a significant period after use.
  4. It's easy to create a policy on your own. The difficulty lies in creating a policy that can withstand a legal challenge, and without a strong policy your company may be vulnerable.
  5. The larger your workforce, the more likely that substance use will impact your workplace.

What to do

  • Act sooner rather than later and implement a policy before recreational use becomes legal.
  • Balance a strong position on safety with a full commitment to accommodating medical conditions
  • Decide where to draw the line. "The bottom line recommendation we are making is that for employees in a dangerous and complex occupation, no use is acceptable, even on their own time. This includes medical marijuana," says Dan.
  • Draft a comprehensive, legally defensible policy that addresses medical marijuana and recreational marijuana use as well as all other required content in a fitness for duty program.

How to get started

WSPS' half-day workshop, Marijuana and the Workplace: Managing the Impact of Legalization & Policy Development, is a practical course that will guide you through the process of creating a workable and legally sound policy. Complete a policy development questionnaire during the workshop and you can leave with a draft policy in hand.

Your workplace will benefit by:

  • mitigating risk and avoiding policy missteps
  • building organizational trust
  • promoting open and honest communication
  • improving employee engagement
  • demonstrating commitment to employee health and well-being