Cannabis Workplace Readiness Toolkit

The federal government introduced legislation to legalize cannabis on October 17, 2018. Like any other impairing substance such as alcohol or prescription drugs it can be a hazard when it shows up in the workplace. However also like alcohol and prescription drugs, it can be managed by establishing clear policies and procedures, educating employees and ensuring that management and supervisors enforce the rules.
Background: Cannabis is a group of hardy, versatile plants whose stems, leaves, buds, flowers, and seeds are used recreationally and in some cases as a medical treatment. These plants have been used to produce hemp fiber, hemp oils, medicines, and other products. Common names for Cannabis include marijuana, weed, pot, Mary Jane, reefer and grass to name a few.
Forms of Cannabis include:
  •      •  dried plant parts that can be smoked, blended into food products or brewed in tea
  •      •  hashish, the sticky resin secreted by the plant is dried and pressed info blocks
  •      •  hash oil, plant resin extracted with a solvent
  •      •  pills, skin creams, salves or skin patches
  • Cannabis contains 100’s of chemical substances, the most common of which is THC and responsible for the psychoactive effect or “high”. Another key component is CBD (cannabidiol) which has been found useful in treating various health conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and Crohns disease. CBD does not produce a high. Evidence is suggesting that cannabis can reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, improve appetite and recue chronic pain and muscle spasms.
Effects include: Dizziness, drowsiness, disorientation, confusion, feeling drunk, nervousness, anxiety, suspiciousness, light headed / feeling faint, feeling drunk, impairment of motor skills and perception, loss of full control of body movements, falls, changes in blood pressure, heart rate, nausea and vomiting. It can even cause paranoia and hallucinations. (This is not an exhaustive list!)
The effects will vary from person to person and depend on the amount of THC and in what form the Cannabis is consumed (smoked, ingested etc.).
Health Canada states that effects have been noted to last as long as 24 hours. Effects will vary depending on a number of factors such as amount of food in the stomach and number of doses.
Impact of Legalization in the Workplace: Legalization of Cannabis does not mean employees can be impaired at work. Ultimately, employers are responsible to ensure the safety and health of their workers in the workplace. Just like employers currently set rules for alcohol use, they have the right to set rules for Cannabis use such as prohibiting employees from being impaired while at work.
Duty to Accommodate: When it comes to medical Cannabis, employers have a duty to accommodate until “undue hardship”. Disabled employees who use medical Cannabis must be accommodated the same way as any other disabled employees who have been prescribed medication. However, this does not entitle an employee to be impaired at work or to compromise the safety of themselves or any other person. Furthermore, it does not entitle employees to be late or absent from work or to smoke in the workplace.
Accommodation when requested could include such things as altering the employee’s duties or removing the employee from a safety-sensitive position. The employer may seek the assistance of an independent medical professional to help ensure the employees fitness for work and what might be appropriate accommodation.
Workplace Safety Impact: “Using cannabis or any cannabis product can impair your concentration, your ability to think and make decisions, and your reaction time and coordination. This can affect your motor skills, including your ability to drive. It can also increase anxiety and cause panic attacks, and in some cases cause paranoia and hallucinations.” – Health Canada
Cannabis Readiness Tool Kit:
1. mySafetyAssistant resource library:

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2. 1Life Webinar Replay
  •     •    Workplace High – The New Era of Workplace Drug and Alcohol Management  CLICK
3. Safe Work Manitoba:
4. Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety:
 

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this resource is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. It is important that you obtain independent legal advice specific to the requirements of your organization.