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Prepare now for marijuana in the workplace

Marijuana legalization

Is your workplace ready for the changes that medical marijuana and the soon-to-be-legal use of recreational marijuana could bring? Few are, says Dan Demers, Senior Manager, Strategic Business Development, for CannAmm Occupational Testing Services.

Medical marijuana use is already a reality in some workplaces, and recreational use is expected to become legal next year. "This means that workplaces of every size will soon have to create standards and practices that are both lawful and practical," says Dan. "There is a lot of information - and misinformation - on the topic of marijuana in the workplace, and a lot of ambiguity around what to do, especially since some legal aspects around recreational marijuana have not yet come into focus."

That's why Dan and WSPS have teamed up to organize a series of legislative briefings across the province starting this month. These breakfast briefings are aimed at helping workplaces of every size understand and manage the upcoming changes and their implications for health and safety.

Even if you already have a substance use policy in place, it may not be up to date or be able to withstand scrutiny, warns Dan. For instance, does it include accommodating the medical use of marijuana? If it focuses on impairment, it may not be able to withstand legal challenges once recreational use of marijuana is decriminalized next year. Workplaces would be better served by a policy that defines what's acceptable, sets expectations, and identifies the consequences of non-compliance, says Dan.

"It's not about impairment. That's not what we're trying to do. We're trying to mitigate risk."

Dan cautions against taking a wait and see approach. Instead, put a policy in place now, before community expectations form around recreational marijuana use. Amend it if necessary when the legislation takes effect. It's difficult to challenge a pre-existing policy that’s based on reasonable health and safety principles.

What to expect from the legislative briefing

"I will be presenting legal developments and new research findings, correcting misinformation, and presenting clear solutions," explains Dan.

"It's a data driven approach distilled so that participants can use the information to create effective workplace standards and practices. The solutions will take into account the role of medical marijuana as a form of treatment, employees' right to privacy, their rights to protection if they have a disability-sensitive addiction, and more."

"The issue of marijuana in the workplace will be consuming a lot of health and safety folks' attention in 2018, 2019 and 2020," says Dan. "The sooner workplaces prepare, the more manageable it will be."

Register today for a Legislative Briefing: Marijuana and the Workplace - Managing the Impact of Legalization session near you.