November 9, 2018

The Cannabis Act & Your Business

Like it or not, the use of cannabis has become legal in Canada for recreational purposes. This change in the law is going to have significant impacts on the general public, but it will also change the way employers deal with their businesses as well. It’s essential that employers are able to put clear policies in place regarding the use of drugs (including marijuana) and alcohol to prevent incidents in the workplace, reduce sick claims, and maintain normal levels of employee productivity. The time to act is now, if you have not already.

Discussing marijuana with the management of your company and with employees is not restricted, so why not take the time to do it? Whether being used recreationally or medically, cannabis is likely to be used by one or more of your employees. With that in mind, making your expectations clear regarding cannabis use is something that should be done to make everyone aware of the policies that you have in place. The social stigma may be gone, but the potential for workplace accidents or impairments is here to stay, so make sure you are doing what you can to mitigate those risks.

So what steps can an employer take to help handle these changes? Well, here are a few to start out with:


  • Discuss with your staff the expectations that you have moving forward with regard to marijuana. It will have been easy for employees to falsely assume that they are allowed to smoke at work or to begin work while under the influence. Both of these assumptions are wrong. During onboarding, training, and regular staff meetings, ensure that you are reminding your employees that recreational use during working hours is prohibited.


  • Ensure your current drug policies are updated. Your guidelines need to communicate new rules post-Cannabis Act and should include information about testing procedures and the times when testing can take place. Though usage in general is no longer illegal, you still have the right as an employer to restrict possession and use in the workplace. Part of this policy needs to define the differences between recreational and medical use.


  • Marijuana can still be used for the treatment of illnesses or medical conditions. Thus, it is important to accommodate the health needs of your employees in your policies and procedures as well. How do you handle prescription marijuana use?


  • Understanding the impact that marijuana can have on the workplace is also important, not only with regard to morale but also with regard to performance and motivation in general. Having this understanding will lend itself to the creation of a truly functional and effective drug policy.


  • Keep in mind that if you put a policy in place, it also means that you have to enforce it. So if someone is breaking your policies, you will have to discipline them for that. Disciplining of employees can create awkward and tough situations, but it must be done.

If you have questions about the effects of legalization of marijuana on your  insurance policies reach out to our staff today 1 (888) 734-8888.