With marijuana legalization looming, it’s a great time for Canadian employers to check and revise their marijuana and drug policies. Here are five tips for ensuring your company is prepared to deal with medical marijuana at work, as well as issues with legal marijuana.
1. Know the law(s)
In addition the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), employers should be up-to-date on the Canadian Human Rights Act. While not necessary, a working understanding of the Cannabis Act can also be helpful.
2. Understand what it means to accommodate medical marijuana users in the workplace
While the Human Rights Act requires employees to accommodate individuals with disabilities, there are some caveats. Understanding these rules is key for creating an accommodation policy that supports the needs of the employee and the employer.
To accommodate a medical marijuana user, an employer will likely need a medical note and information regarding dosage and side effects. Accommodations can be made by adjusting duties or offering a similar role. Accommodations for medical marijuana users should be similar to those made for other disabled employees on a particular medication.
An employer does not need to allow medical marijuana use at work if such use will jeopardize the safety of the employee or others or if it causes undue hardship on the company.
3. Be clear with your employees
Your employees should understand that if they require accommodation, they will need to follow a particular process in order to secure it. Having a clear policy for those seeking accommodation can help make the process easier. Many companies likely have some sort of policy in place; however, it may be a good time to revisit it and revise it to ensure it meets current standards and uses the latest terminology. This can help reduce confusion later on.
In addition, because legal recreational marijuana will be available for purchase soon, it’s important to also revisit policies pertaining to drug use. It’s likely that your current workplace policies already prohibit drug or alcohol use on the premises and intoxication at work. However, it’s a good idea to provide a refresher before legal sales to ensure everyone is on the same page. Make sure the policy is clear and specifically mentions legal marijuana. Keep in mind that those with an addiction will also fall under the Human Rights Act.
Ensuring that drug policy is followed will be more difficult than in the past. Drug testing cannot inform an employer whether an employee is currently under the influence of a particular drug. Rather, it highlights that fact that drugs have been in their system within a certain time frame. Since marijuana will be legal soon, it will be acceptable for someone to have had marijuana in their system. Of course, intoxication on the job remains unacceptable. Employers will need to ensure their policies detail under what circumstances an employee will be considered intoxicated. Potentially, they may need to reassess their workplace safety procedures to ensure their accident prevention program is adequate.
4. Cover medical marijuana in your healthcare plan
Despite the legalization of recreational marijuana, medical marijuana restrictions continue. Those looking for a prescription must follow the guidelines set forth in ACMPR. Medical marijuana can be costly, however, more insurers are beginning to cover it in some capacity. Including medical marijuana in your healthcare plan may make your company more competitive as an employer and increase employee retention.
5. Be adaptable and share information
As only the second country to have legalized medical and recreational marijuana, there is a lot to learn. It’s important that employers be prepared to make changes as necessary. HR representatives should be prepared to learn how others are handling the new marijuana landscape and providing information about how their company is dealing with this. In this way, Canadian employers can start generating their best practices and honing policies that will meet the needs of the company and its employees.
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