Medical Marihuana in the Workplace
Complicated or what?
Written by Deanna Hunter
Over 40,000 Canadians are currently registered to use medical marihuana. It’s estimated that 500,000 will be using medical marihuana in some form by 2024. This is definitely something employers should start thinking about – at some point one of your employees may be using medical marihuana at work.
It’s a complicated issue and seems to be growing more complicated by the day as new court cases are being fought in many jurisdictions in Canada and the political landscape continues to shift. Right now marihuana is illegal to possess in Canada, but it has an exemption from criminal law because the courts have required ‘reasonable access’ to a legal source of marihuana for medical purposes. And it’s useful to remember that there is both criminal and employment law to consider. Not all legal activities need to be accommodated in the workplace.
Many employers will already have zero tolerance policies related to consuming drugs and alcohol at work. It seems that this is still a good idea but given the complicated space we are in, if and when medical marihuana in the workplace hits your radar screen, the specific circumstance will probably need to be given some contextual analysis. There likely won’t be a black and white approach to tackling any issue that arises.
We can hope for much more clarity on this topic in the future but my hunch is that it will take a while. Until then don’t try to tackle this issue by yourself if it comes up in your business. Retaining an employment lawyer to advise you will be well worth the money.