On Oct. 17, 2018, Canada will officially enter uncharted
territory as the only first-world nation to fully legalize the
use of recreational marijuana. As the country navigates
the new legislation, employers will be expected to have
policies and procedures that guide their staff. Are you ready?
We spoke to two leading employment lawyers about how this
new legislation will affect the workplace. Their answers may sur-prise
“The fact that marijuana is legal in Canada doesn’t mean that
obligations in the workplace are different. Alcohol is something
we can’t consume and then participate in work. And if you put
recreational marijuana in same category, the same principles
apply,” said James D. Heeney, partner at Robinson Heeney LLP.
“You can’t show up to work intoxicated from alcohol at lunch
and you won’t be able to show up that way from smoking marijuana.”
Does this mean employers can lump marijuana into their exist-ing
policies about substance use and consider the issue covered?
Not exactly. Heeney says this is high time to think carefully about
your approach and update HR policies to be clear about the recre-ational
use of drugs in the workplace.
It’s also a good time to address your organization’s approach to
medicinal marijuana. Something David A. Whitten, partner at
Whitten & Lublin, says should already be covered. “Everybody’s
excited about the marijuana legalization, but the real watershed
moment happened two or so years ago when it became recognized
as medicinal treatment and has needed to be accommodated in the
workplace if prescribed by a doctor ever since.
“Employers should already have turned their minds to this.”
With the expert advice of Heeney and Whitten, we’re walking
you through what to consider to ensure you’re up on your obli-gations
and have a clear strategy for handling marijuana-related
issues in your workplace.
EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS SAY
IT’S HIGH TIME TO UPDATE YOUR
WORKPLACE ALCOHOL AND
By Heather Hudson
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ OCTOBER 2018 ❚ 19