C A N N A B I S
Recreational use of cannabis will not only
become more widespread, but become a
more tolerated and accepted behaviour.
in the MMPR, while at the same time, allowing individuals
with medical needs, or their authorized designate, to produce
small amounts of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Health Canada plays a key role in administering the ACMPR
through licensing the commercial industry and registering
individuals who are legally entitled to produce a limited
amount of cannabis for their own medical use or as an authorized
designate for someone else.
Currently, the Cannabis Act allows people 18 years of
age or older to possess up to 30 grams of legal dried cannabis
or its fresh equivalent, share up to 30 grams of legal
cannabis with other adults, purchase dried or fresh cannabis
oil from a provincially-licensed retailer, make organic
solvent-free cannabis products at home – including food
and beverages – and grow up to four cannabis plants per
household for personal use. These plants can be no taller
than 100 centimetres and must be grown from licensed
seeds or seedlings. Provinces and territories have the legislative
power to increase the minimum age, lower possession
limits, implement additional restrictions around
growing cannabis at home (including reducing the number
of plants permitted) and restrict where cannabis can
be consumed. Additionally, restrictions, comprehensive
public awareness programs and criminal penalties have
been introduced to prevent use by youth, and surveillance
activities and criminal penalties, including jail time of up
to 14 years and fines of up to $5 million, will be aimed at
anyone acting outside of the legal framework.
Now that the Cannabis Act is in effect, recreational use
of cannabis will not only become more widespread, but
become a more tolerated and accepted behaviour. The prospect
of recreational marijuana use becoming a “new norm,”
in addition to the expansion of medial cannabis prescriptions
from just of 30,000 in September 2015 to almost 130,000 in
December 2016, means that cannabis-related impairment in
the workplace may soon become a pressing issue in light of
its potential impacts on worker safety and productivity.
So, how exactly does marijuana impact worker safety and
productivity? Even if marijuana was used the day before a
shift, impairment can last more than 24 hours, depending on
the dose. In addition to the commonly known impairment
effects, documented negative effects also include decreased
attention to concentration, compromised judgment and decision
making capabilities, increased impulsivity, distortions in
sensory perception and decreased working memory, among
others. All of these effects can put the health and safety of the
individuals and others in jeopardy.
In a survey of participants who took part in a Managing
Medical Marijuana in the Workplace online course prior to
legalization, 85 per cent cited “increased safety incidents and
injuries” as a risk facing their company with the legalization of
cannabis. In addition, 61 per cent were concerned about occupational
health and safety violations. Both of these concerns
stemmed from fears that companies would be powerless to
address cannabis impairment due to its legalized status.
However, it’s important to note that legislation of cannabis
does not give people a license to be impaired in the workplace.
Although employers have a duty to accommodate an
employee’s medical needs to prevent undue hardship, they
also have the right to restrict cannabis use for safety reasons,
in the same way that alcohol consumption or prescription
drug use can be restricted.
With the now-legal status of cannabis, employers should
have a plan to address the potential increase in workplace
cannabis use and abuse. A layered approach that combines
education and policy implementation is recommended.
24 ALBERTA HEAVY 2 2019