Don’t Let Your Workplace Get Burned By The Legalization of Cannabis

Is Your Workplace Ready For The Legalization Of Cannabis?

On Monday August 13, 2018, the Ontario government announced recreational cannabis will be sold online to coincide with the coming into force of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, which legalizes the recreational use of cannabis, on October 17, 2018.

The Ontario Government also announced on Monday plans to distribute cannabis through a regulated private retail model by April 1, 2019. The provinces own Ontario Cannabis Act will require amendments in order to implement these changes. As a result, the Ontario government announced proposed changes to the Act which will:

  • Set the legal age for the purchase of cannabis at 19;
  • Prohibit those under the age of 19 from possessing consuming or cultivating cannabis; and
  • Ban the use of recreational cannabis in all public places, motor-vehicles, and workplaces.

As these legislative changes reflecting the ban of cannabis in the workplace are yet to be seen, proactive employers will take steps to address the potential affects readily available legalized recreational marijuana may have on their workplace.

What Should Proactive Employers Do?

Proactive employers will review, update (or establish) workplace drug and alcohol policies. Existing policies may not mention cannabis at all, or may ‘bucket’ cannabis into ‘illegal substances’. Employers will retain discretion to implement workplace policies prohibiting, among other things, use of cannabis in the workplace similar to what the employer has implemented regarding the use of alcohol and tobacco in the workplace. Policies should be amended if necessary to address issues such as an employee’s disclosure of addictions, accommodation requests, and consequences for breach of the policy.

An employers obligation to maintain a safe workplace will remain. As a result, proactive employers will provide clear training to management and employees regarding the updated policies and the consequences of attending or performing work while impaired. Proactive employers will provide this training and adequate notice of the new expectations to their employees prior to October 17, 2018.

Proactive employers will need to continue to be mindful of potential Human Rights issues, and in particular their duty to accommodate employees in respect to addictions and disability, including the possible consumption of medical marijuana.

Finally, please contact our office if you have any questions regarding the impact recreational cannabis and the changes in related legislation will have on your workplace.
It would truly be proactive to do so.

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About Maxwell Bauer

Max advises on all aspects of the employment relationship, including advising and representing both employees and employers on human rights matters, resolving workplace conflicts, advising on and negotiating severance packages and representing employers and employees in litigation.

In particular, Max has a dedicated interest in the financial services industry as well as human rights matters.

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