Cannabis at the Workplace

Last week, the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and the Bonnyville & District Chamber of Commerce hosted sessions that focused on what cannabis legalization means for businesses. Facilitated by Karen Stokke, CPHR, the sessions were designed to help employers manage and understand medical and recreational cannabis in the workplace; as well as the importance of drug & alcohol policies.

A major area that was covered was the shaping of policies, explains Executive Director of the Bonnyville Chamber, Tanya Oliver, “it’s really important to have a good policy around drugs & alcohol and also to be able to communicate it properly to make sure employees understand it and follow it.”

“Disclosure is a big topic. So if an employee has a medical marijuana prescription, they are protected under human rights. Which is separate from a recreational user. Employers can request for their employers to disclose,” it wouldn’t just be disclosure of a cannabis prescription, explains Oliver, “employers should request disclosure of any kind of prescription that may impair their ability to work.”

Karen Stokke says response to the sessions have been positive, “people are here to learn and understand how to they can apply medical cannabis in the workplace and how they can manage it.” Through these sessions Stokke says she’s picked up a general sense of worry from the business community, “it’s this mentality that we’ve grown up with that it’s a bad substance. That’s what we’re trying to change and most people are pretty receptive; but worried about how that’s going to look in their workplace. It’s not new, but it is new that it’s going to be legal and that’s a hard pill for employers to swallow.”

Legalization is expected in the summer of 2018, but that doesn’t mean people will be able to come to work impaired. “Just like now, you can’t show up to work impaired. Employers will have the same ability to ensure the workplace is safe,” explains Oliver. One of the main discussion points that came out during the sessions was how will employers be able to determine whether or not someone is impaired. When it comes to workplace safety, employers are able to make a reasonable judgement as to a person’s impairment.

The Bonnyville Chamber has committed to keeping this topic on the forefront and hosting more sessions should more information be provided and/or once legalization occurs.