February 25, 2016

As medical marijuana use continues to rise across Canada, employers and unions will be called upon to address workplace marijuana use with increasing frequency. In this session, Lancaster’s experts will discuss how the obligation to accommodate employees with disabilities should be balanced with the duty to ensure a safe workplace, and provide practical tips on crafting effective and enforceable marijuana use policies. The panelists will address such issues as:

  • Understanding medical marijuana: What are the medical conditions for which marijuana is typically prescribed? What symptoms does it help 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?
  • Balancing accommodation and safety obligations: What safety hazards might be posed by medical marijuana use on or off the job? Does a prescription for medical marijuana use entitle an employee to be impaired at work? Does the answer depend on whether the workplace or position is safety-sensitive? 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? How is impairment measured?
  • Considering specific accommodations: Are authorized users entitled to smoke in the workplace? If so, should a designated smoking area be provided to ensure the employee’s privacy and/or prevent passive marijuana inhalation by tobacco smokers? Should employees be asked whether they can ingest marijuana in another form, rather than smoking it, such as eating it or vaporizing it? If an employer denies a request to use medical marijuana on the job, what other types of accommodation may be appropriate? Leaves of absence? Modified work schedules?
  • 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? Is random drug testing allowed? If so, how is impairment measured?


  • Members of the Nova Scotia Barristers Society may count this program for 1.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.
  • Each audio conference has been approved by the Law Society of British Columbia for 1.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.
  • Each audio conference has been approved by the Law Society of New Brunswick for 1.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.
  • Each audio conference has been approved by the Law Society of Saskatchewan for 1.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.
  • CPD for Members of the Law Society of Upper Canada: 1.5 Substantive Hours; 0 Professionalism Hours.