During the 2015 Federal Election the Liberal party announced they would legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Federal legislation is currently under preparation for 2017 to legalize use. Among the various legal ramifications there is concern among employers around how to protect their employees in these new legal circumstances.
A landmark case is about to go before the Supreme Court in December, Stewart vs Elk Valley Coal, which will determine the liability for companies in dealing with impaired and addicted employees. To date the Alberta Court of Appeal has established the crucial threshold issue is whether the employer’s policy is properly applied to the individuals before the Court or arbitrator, especially when there is no elevated safety risk for applying the policy to those individuals.
Legalization in places like the Netherlands has maintained standards similar to alcohol consumption. Smoking marijuana in the workplace is not allowed. Like in Canada use of marijuana or alcohol at the workplace is considered a case for dismissal of an employee.
Testing and tools for managing employees before they become a danger to themselves and others is something employers will need to continue to stay informed about. ACA’s Safety WCB Committee is already looking into the research around this question and what it means for employers, to determine an appropriate advocacy strategy on behalf of members.
For more information on the Canadian taskforce see link below.