Cannabis legalization sparks concerns for employers

As Canada rolls toward the fulfillment of the federal Liberal government’s election promise to legalize cannabis, 52 per cent of Canadian organizations are either concerned or very concerned about the implications this will have on the workplace, according to a new report by The Conference Board of Canada.

“Workplace safety is consistently flagged as employers’ top concern with legalization but the solution is not one-size-fits-all,” says Bryan Benjamin, Vice-President, Organizational Performance. “Gauging and managing impairment; adapting workplace policies; and ensuring employees are educated on what is allowed and what remains prohibited are all crucial components to a smooth transition to legalization.”

In addition to workplace safety, impairment or intoxication and increased use of cannabis both inside and outside the workplace, employers also expressed concern surrounding testing for impairment, managing accommodation needs, costs of covering medical cannabis and other financial impacts on the organization, and issues related to productivity and employee performance.

The report, Blazing the Trail: What the Legalization of Cannabis Means for Canadian Employers, discusses various perspectives on how to evaluate impairment from cannabis and outlines the need to implement or amend drug policies to address the legalization of cannabis will vary depending on type of work.

The Senate and the House of Commons battled over Bill C-45 for months. Senators voted June 19 to pass the federal government’s bill legalizing recreational marijuana, paving the way for a fully legal cannabis market within eight to 12 weeks.

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