the policy and program

Tips for Policy Development:

  1. Focus on detection of impairment and providing a safe workplace
  2. Identify safety sensitive positions - do the risk assessments
  3. Provide programs that emphasize awareness, education, and training with respect to drug use
  4. Focus on rehabilitation vs. punishment
  5. Seek Advice when developing policies related to medical and recreational use of cannabis

Comprehensive Workplace Policy & Program

The policy should consist of: 

  1. Scope
  2. Objectives
  3. Roles & Responsibilities
  4. Rules
  5. Policy Violations & Consequences
  6. Procedures
  7. Prevention
  8. Assessment & Rehabilitation 
  9. Confidentiality & Privacy
  10. Program Evaluation

Questions of concern & Answers

Questions and Answers

Q: Can I send a worker home if I think they are high?

  • Yes, you certainly can.
  • Under our safety laws, every employer and supervisor must take every precaution reasonable for the protection of their workers. 
  • If you have reason to believe a worker is impaired by drugs or alcohol you have an obligation to protect them and the rest of your workers. 
  • This may mean taking them away from any work that may pose a danger to them or others.
  • In most cases this would result in sending the worker home or not allowing them to start/resume work.
  • It is strongly recommend all businesses consider revising their policies on alcohol and drug use to include the prohibition of smoking or consuming cannabis products at the workplace.

Q: Do I have to prove that they are impaired?

  • No, you do not, all you need is reason to believe they may be impaired. 
  • If you sense that a worker may be impaired, that is enough reason to stop their work before anyone gets injured. 
  • What if your mentality was “I think they are okay to work” and an accident occurred?
  • The Ministry of Labour will ask you all the tough questions including why you allowed them to work if you thought they could be impaired.
  • No one is expected to be or have an expert in evaluating someone’s level of impairment, we leave that to the police.

Q: What if my worker has a prescription for medical cannabis, are they allowed to smoke or consume marijuana at work?

  • Under employment laws, employers have a duty to accommodate workers with any disabilities or those that have to take medication, which includes cannabis. 
  • If a worker is under any kind of medication that may affect their ability to perform their job safely, they have an obligation to let their employer know of the effects of that medication.
  • They are not required to tell you what it is for, just that they are taking the medication and that it may affect the job or tasks they do.
  • Once the employer is aware of the situation, they have to ensure that the worker can work safely under these conditions. 
  • Keep in mind most people taking medical cannabis are taking it to help with their disability, and not to get high.
  • This situation is similar to someone taking strong pain killers for an injury, they take it for their pain relief, not to get high. 
  • There are lots of medical marijuana products that have the psychoactive constituent of the plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), removed so individuals can receive the health benefits without the impairment.
  • Medical marijuana now comes in many presentations that does not require smoking of the plant, for example; capsules, lozenges, dermal patches and sprays, etc.

Q: How will the Cannabis Act affect my workplace?

  • The reality is that this new law should have very little impact in the workplace.
  • If someone came into the workplace smelling like alcohol, or you have reason to believe there is an alcohol impairment, you should already have a policy and procedures dictating the outcome of such an event.
  • All businesses should revise their policies with regards to alcohol and drug use to include the new marijuana law changes.
  • If you do not already have this measure in place, you should consider creating a policy to address the use of marijuana at your workplace.

takeaway message

  • Marijuana and safety sensitive work cannot mix safely and reliably
  • Effects of marijuana are longer lasting than what the general public believes
  • Marijuana use off the job can bring risk onto the job
  • Clear policies and procedures are crucial



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