Canadian employers concerned about implications of cannabis legalization

More than half (52 per cent) of Canadian employers said they’re concerned or very concerned about the implications of legalized marijuana on the workplace, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada.

A third (33 per cent) of respondents said they’re slightly concerned and 15 per cent said they aren’t concerned at all. Among those concerned, 57 per cent cited workplace safety, followed by impairment or intoxication at work (39 per cent); increased use of the drug in and out of the workplace (21 per cent); testing for impairment (20 per cent); managing needs related to accommodation and disclosure (15 per cent); and the cost, including covering medical marijuana and other financial effects on the organization (15 per cent).

Read: Tips for employers to prepare for legalization of recreational marijuana

“Workplace safety is consistently flagged as employers’ top concern with legalization, but the solution is not one size fits all,” said Bryan Benjamin, vice-president of organizational performance at the Conference Board of Canada, in a news release.

“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.”

The report offered some options for employers to consider, such as providing training for managers to be able to recognize signs of impairment and how to discuss it with employees, as well as consulting legal partners to ensure any new alcohol and drug program respects workers’ privacy and human rights.

In relation to issues around dependency on marijuana, the report suggested employers can review the resources and treatment choices they offer and consider increasing them if necessary. Also, the report suggested organizations should ensure they offer a safe environment for employees to report problems to management, train managers to talk to employees who come forward with drug problems or addictions and work with their employee assistance program to offer educational materials about the effects of the drug.

Read: Medical marijuana cases highlight need for precise wording in benefits plans