September 14, 2017

With the rise of medical marijuana use and the impending legalization of recreational use, it is critical for workplace parties to understand their legal rights and obligations in this rapidly evolving area. In this session, a medical expert will join seasoned labour lawyers to address the effects of marijuana, the current legal landscape, and the key workplace implications of marijuana use. Topics to be discussed include:

  • Legal landscape: What are the key features of the legislation tabled by the federal government legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes? What type of impairment testing does the legislation provide for? Are there any specific measures that address marijuana in the workplace?
  • Understanding impairment: What are some common side effects of marijuana use? How long do such side effects typically persist after ingesting or smoking marijuana? Does the use of marijuana necessarily result in impairment? How long does impairment last? What privacy and/or human rights concerns are raised by impairment testing in the workplace?
  • Disclosing marijuana use: In what circumstances, if any, are employees required to disclose that they use medical marijuana? When recreational marijuana is legalized, can employees be required to disclose recreational use?
  • Balancing accommodation and safety obligations: What is the extent of an employer’s duty to accommodate an employee’s medical marijuana use? What safety hazards might be posed by marijuana use on or off the job? What type of medical information should be requested to determine whether an employee can safely and effectively perform his or her job?
  • Benefit coverage: Is it discriminatory for employer benefit plans to exclude coverage for medical marijuana that is legally authorized by a health care practitioner?
  • Crafting workplace policies: Should workplace parties develop a specific policy for medical marijuana use, or a more general drug policy that addresses the use of any prescription medication (including marijuana)? What elements should be included in such a policy? In what circumstances, if any, are zero-tolerance policies for marijuana permissible? What workplace policies should be implemented to address recreational marijuana use when it is legalized?