Employment Law

Author: J. Geoffrey Howard

With the legalization of recreational marijuana which took effect October 17, 2018 across Canada and the growing use of medical marijuana, it is a good time to institute or update a Drug and Alcohol Policy (“DAP”) at your organization. Having a DAP is recommended for all employers but particularly if your organization has safety sensitive jobs or a safety sensitive working environment or if you have experienced problems with drug and alcohol in your workplace in the past. A comprehensive DAP is both an employer’s road map when dealing with a drug or alcohol issue and the first line of defence against claims.

Given the expected increase in use of marijuana following legalization, employers need to clarify where legalized marijuana fits within their policy framework. Key messages should include:

  1. Recreational marijuana users will be treated like drinkers under the policy: they may not be impaired by, consume or deal in marijuana at work;
  2. Anyone who believes they are a marijuana addict must disclose that to management to obtain accommodation as required for other addictive drugs and alcohol under the policy;
  3. Employees who must take medical marijuana, like those taking other impairing medications (e.g. Tylenol 3s, other opioids), must disclose this, provide information on the need for and effects of the medication and, depending on their role and safety and productivity etc. concerns, the employer will try to accommodate them.

You can contact me for assistance to draft or update a Drug and Alcohol Policy at ghoward@meplaw.ca; 604 891-1184.