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Recreational marijuana: Take these 4 steps to prepare your workplace

Recreational marijuana

Impairment continues to be a challenge that employers across Ontario must manage. With the marijuana legislation that took effect on October 17th, employers are once again reminded of the importance of managing impairment in the workplace.

"If you haven't already, consider the implications to workplace safety and take preventive steps," advises Larry Masotti, WSPS' Director, Strategic Relationships.

Here's why: marijuana affects our coordination, reaction time, decision-making, and ability to judge distances. These effects can linger, creating significant hazards for users and people around them (read more about the effects: 4 things employers need to know about marijuana).

Once recreational marijuana is legalized, expect its use to grow, along with the workplace hazards. Testing results in the United States show a striking increase in the number of workers who tested positive in states that have legalized recreational use.*

Larry encourages employers to take the following four steps:

  • Inform yourself. Start with these three white papers:
  • Review your existing drug and alcohol policy and procedures. Does it include the concepts of impairment or being under the influence? This approach takes into account all sources of impairment. Does your policy include the organization's position on using, possessing or being under the influence of substances while at work?
  • Assess potential hazards. Understand how impairment could pose hazards, and what symptoms of impairment look like (e.g., inability to concentrate, disorientation and confusion, slow reaction times, and lack of coordination). Incorporate this understanding into your process for identifying, evaluating and controlling hazards. Check out WSPS' hazard assessment resources, including a downloadable assessment tool.
  • Manage hazards, especially those particular to recreational marijuana. For instance, inform employees of your drug and alcohol policy and procedures, as well as support systems, such as an EAP program or community resources. Post reminders, such as signage and posters that speak to impairment and zero tolerance. During inspections, be mindful of paraphernalia, such as vapourizers. Is the smell of cannabis present on people? Build on your existing model for controlling hazards instead of starting from scratch.

How we can help

WSPS supports the prevention of injury and illness in workplaces as they relate to impairment from cannabis use. Please contact for more information on how we can help your company get ready. Some of the ways we can assist include:

  • Impairment and Cannabis in the Workplace (CCOHS eCourse) - This course provides an exceptional introduction to the complexities of impairment in the workplace with definitive guidance on how to best prepare for the impending legalization of recreational cannabis and how to enhance existing organizational impairment policies. The course is suitable for organizations of all sizes and sectors. 
  • One hour onsite information sessions with our WSPS subject matter expert - call 1 877-494-WSPS (9777) or email to book a session at your location.
  • Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training - WSPS instructors address cannabis in the substance-related disorders section of our onsite and public Mental Health First Aid courses.
  • Referrals to reputable third-party providers - We can refer you to reputable third-party providers for services and resources that go beyond our mandate.


*The number of workers who tested positive in U.S. states that have legalized recreational use since 2016 increased as follows: Nevada (43%), Massachusetts (14%) and California (11%). Source: "Workforce Drug Positivity at Highest Rate in a Decade, Finds Analysis of More Than 10 Million Drug Test Results," Quest Diagnostics.