Since Canada’s legalization of medical medicinal cannabis in 2001, the country has experienced a significant surge in the number of registered users. Health Canada data reveals that client registrations have surpassed 235,000 as of September 2017. As the trend continues, more employees will require authorization from their companies to use prescribed medical medicinal cannabis while at work. These businesses need to take proactive measures and meet legal obligations for these employees.
The marked increase of legal cannabis users in North America creates new concerns regarding workplace safety; employers must face these challenges. New Canadian laws require companies to establish policies and accommodate cannabis use in the workplace, while avoiding the possibility of accidents due to impaired employees.
According to a survey conducted by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) in 2017, almost 50 percent of its 650 members do not believe existing policies adequately cover potential workplace issues related to the legalization of medicinal cannabis. Without a clear legal definition for “impairment” — or established legalities regarding whether employers can test workers for cannabis use without violating their human rights — businesses need guidance.
According to Health Canada, the number of medical marijuana users will increase from by several hundred thousand by 2024. Approximately 60% of them will be employed, requiring those employees to have some sort of authorization to use medicinal cannabis in the workplace. Without doubt, failure of employers to deal with cannabis usage in the workplace will result in human rights cases being tabled under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
TCN is committed to helping both employers and workers gain a comprehensive understanding of the complex issues related to medical medicinal cannabis and workplace safety: