Recreational Marijuana and the Workplace
- Non-medical use, marijuana (whether legal or not) may continue to be treated in the same way as the use of alcohol under an organization’s Workplace Drug & Alcohol Policy.
- Employers will have the right to prohibit the use of marijuana during work hours, and to further prohibit being at work while impaired. Violation of these prohibitions can be made the subject of progressive discipline; repeated violations could result in termination of employment for just cause.
- Where an employee’s use of marijuana becomes an addiction it will likely constitute a “disability” under federal human rights legislation, then the employer has a duty to accommodate the employee’s disability.
Medical Marijuana and the Workplace
- With the introduction of legitimately recognized medical marijuana use, the situation for employers is complicated.
- Employers must have policies in place permitting the medical use of marijuana in the workplace where supported by appropriate medical evidence, as a form of accommodation.
- Employers continue to have the right to prohibit impairment on the job, especially in safety-sensitive occupations.
- If an employee claims a medical need for marijuana, the request has to be treated in the same manner as any other request for medical accommodation.
- Employers will require not only medical proof of prescription but also sufficient medical indication that the employee actually has to ingest marijuana during working hours, dosages, treatment ingestion method and frequency of dosage.
Determination of impairment as related to dosage levels will pose tremendous challenges in drafting and implementing policies concerning medical marijuana use at work.
There isn’t currently, a medical test that accurately or reliably indicates the level of a person’s impairment due to marijuana use.
- Also, human rights law in Canada prohibit pre-employment or random testing for drug or alcohol use or impairment.
It will take time for the legal system to provide employers with more guidance as to their right to do testing, and to deal with issues of impairment in the workplace due to marijuana use.