BEFORE MAKING POLICY
CHANGES, ORGANIZATIONS MUST
UNDERSTAND THE BREAKDOWN
OF THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF
CANNABIS AND THE IMPACT
EACH HAS ON INDIVIDUALS.
latest data, Morneau Shepell found that among employees who
report using cannabis regularly, almost one third (30 per cent)
reported using when faced with a stressful situation. Individuals
who use cannabis as a stress release and short-term solution
often do not recognize that prolonged use could actually increase
ADDRESSING MENTAL ILLNESS AND CANNABIS
AS A COPING STRATEGY
The legalization of cannabis also ties into increasing mental health
concerns in Canadian organizations – an issue that employ-ers
continually face. When recreational cannabis use becomes
legal, the complexities of the issue will only increase. Morneau
Shepell found in its latest research that cannabis use is correlated
with poorer mental health. The data showed that current users
of cannabis (21 per cent), at least occasionally in the past month,
reported feeling down and depressed more often than those who
are past users (10 per cent) or never have used (11 per cent).
This is particularly concerning because although it’s not cur-rently
legal, cannabis is still used as a strategy to cope with mental
health concerns, posing the likelihood that use will increase once
it becomes legal. Morneau Shepell found that cannabis is used as
a coping strategy among four per cent of employees and two per
cent of employers.
Although this presents a concern for organizations, it also
provides an opportunity for employers to seek education on pro-ductive
and non-productive coping skills. Education is the most
effective way to fix this problem – teaching employers more pro-ductive
coping skills, that can be passed on to employees, will help
ease their reliance on cannabis and decrease overall stress levels.
Tips for preparing for and communicating policy changes:
1. Review and amend current policy: Companies may never
feel completely ready for the legalization of cannabis, but
they are expected to address emerging issues when they
become prevalent. As we approach October’s legalization,
employers need to review current policies and revise them to
address medicinal and recreational cannabis consumption. If
policies do not currently exist, organizations need to take the
pending legalization as an opportunity to develop a policy that
2. Provide detailed information and communicate policy
changes: Revisions to existing policies and/or the implementation
of new processes need to be communicated back
to employees along with health and safety communication.
This includes information on both internal policies (e.g.,
acceptable usage in the workplace) and external policies
(e.g., usage at holiday parties). Employers with strong
communication are less likely to have disruptions to their
business upon legalization.
3. Educate senior leadership on effective management of
cannabis use: Education is essential. Management needs to
receive training on proper usage of cannabis, how it affects
the workplace and the mental and physical effects it can have
on the body. This will help managers by providing the tools
and insight to educate employees. Demonstrating interest in
the health and wellbeing of employees will help organizations
adapt to the new regulations.
While revising and creating policies to address new legislation
may be commonplace, it also means that employers need to be
constantly changing policies to meet the new needs of employees.
Employers may never be fully ready, but those who don’t remain
static and are the most responsive will be the most successful. n
Paula Allen is the vice-president of research and integrative solutions
at Morneau Shepell.
jirkaejc / 123RF Stock Photo
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ SEPTEMBER 2018 ❚ 33