Marijuana Legalization in Canada


Cannabis, Weed, Pot, Marijuana, Grass, Herb, Bud, Nugs, Skunk, Ganja, MaryJane…call it what you may, Canada will soon become the 2nd nation in the world to legalize recreational marijuana use.

With the legalization of recreational marijuana coming into effect on October 17, 2018, many employers and employees remain unclear about their rights and obligations regarding marijuana in the workplace.

For the most part, nothing will change for employers and employees. Employers will still have the right to set rules restricting or prohibiting recreational marijuana use in the workplace, especially where substance impairment can have severe impacts on workplace health and safety. Generally speaking, the same restrictions that employers apply to alcohol in the workplace will be applicable to recreational marijuana—no smoking during work hours or on the premises, no showing up to work under the influence, no consumption within a set period of time before driving or operating equipment, and so on.

Employers should create and provide their employees with clear and consistent written workplace policies on substance use. Doing so will not only make expectations clear to employees, but they can also provide guidance and protection in case of employee discipline or health and safety violations arising from the use of marijuana.

Employers should also be aware of their duty to accommodate employees who have been prescribed medical marijuana as they would any other employee with a disability, while at the same time ensuring the safety of other employees and the public.

If you are an employee who has been prescribed medical marijuana, you should advise your employer so that they can make appropriate accommodations to allow you to do your job, or modify your duties at work. This does not mean you can smoke or be impaired by marijuana at work, but it does mean your employer has to take it into account in evaluating your job performance and determining what tasks you may or may not be able to perform.

An employer’s right to carry out drug testing and restrictions on that right will not change with the legalization of marijuana. Employees in inherently dangerous workplaces with high safety risks can still be subject to random testing, and testing can still be required if there is reasonable cause to believe an employee is impaired on the job or has been involved in a workplace accident. Employers should also be cautious not to assume that employees who test positive for marijuana are in fact impaired, but they should be prepared to concerns with employees about substance abuse and offer support and assistance to employees who may be struggling with it.

The lawyers at Alemi Law Group can help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities regarding substance use in the workplace to help strike the balance between them.

Disclaimer: To the full extent permitted by law, Alemi Law Group does not make any warranties, conditions, representations of any kind as to the accuracy of this publication and other contents on this website. Accessing or using this website does not form a lawyer-client relationship. Individuals and companies do not become clients of Alemi Law Group and/or its lawyers until such time as Alemi Law Group accepts to represent and that it is confirmed in a formal retainer agreement outlining the exact nature of the legal relationship.

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