September 22, 2016

With medical marijuana use on the rise across Canada, and the federal government’s impending move to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, it is critical for employers and unions to assess and address the workplace implications of marijuana use. In this session, medical and legal experts will provide guidance on a range of issues in this area, including potential safety hazards, accommodative measures, and workplace policies.

  • Understanding marijuana from a medical perspective: What are the medical conditions for which marijuana is typically prescribed? What symptoms does it help to alleviate? Is there an average recommended dose, or does this vary widely? What are some common side effects of marijuana use? How long do such side effects typically persist after ingesting or smoking marijuana? Is smoking dried marijuana the only legal method by which medical marijuana users are entitled to consume marijuana, or are users allowed to ingest the drug in other ways?
  • 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 safety hazards might be posed by marijuana use on or off the job? Does a prescription for medical marijuana use entitle an employee to be impaired at work? How is impairment measured? In what circumstances, if any, is an employer entitled to consider an employee’s off-duty use of medical marijuana? What type of medical information should be requested to determine whether an employee can safely and effectively perform his or her job? Is a prescription pad note sufficient?
  • 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? How should terms such as “impairment,” “intoxication,” and “under the influence” be defined? Should the policy require employees to report their use of medical marijuana during work hours? During off-duty hours? In what circumstances, if any, are zero-tolerance policies for medical marijuana permissible? What workplace policies should be implemented to address recreational marijuana use when it is legalized?