Majority of Canadians say legalization of recreational pot not impacting workplace: survey

Nearly a year since the legalization of recreational cannabis, most Canadians said it’s hasn’t had an impact at work in terms of health and safety (75 per cent), productivity (74 per cent), absenteeism (71 per cent) or quality of work (70 per cent), according to a new survey by ADP Canada.

This is in contrast to opinions held in 2018, prior to legalization, when nearly half of working Canadians said they expected productivity (46 per cent) and quality of work (43 per cent) to decline, and health and safety incidents (55 per cent) and absenteeism (40 per cent) to increase.

Read: Recreational marijuana legalization raises new questions for employers

The majority (86 per cent) of working Canadians said their employer doesn’t permit recreational cannabis use and only eight per cent said cannabis use is allowed during the workday. Among this group, 63 per cent said they’re consuming it before work, 47 per cent are consuming during work hours and 72 per cent are consuming after work.

However, when looking at all respondents, only a fraction of Canadians said they consume recreational cannabis before work (five per cent), during work hours (four per cent) and after work with colleagues (six per cent).

There was a lot of uncertainty and hype leading up to cannabis legalization last year, but so far cannabis has not had a noticeable impact on the workplace or on workplace performance,” said Hendrik Steenkamp, director of human resources advisory at ADP Canada, in a press release. “Although only a fraction of Canadian workplaces allow cannabis during the workday, it’s important for every organization to develop proper workplace guidelines and policies, as well as provide training to identify and manage impairment.”

Read: Legalization of recreational cannabis won’t disrupt distinct medical pot system

As well, though 80 per cent of survey respondents said they’re either fully or somewhat aware of expectations around legal recreational cannabis use, managers (86 per cent) said they’re more likely to fully understand their organization’s policies than non-managers (74 per cent).

In Atlantic Canada, respondents were most likely (72 per cent) to be aware of their organization’s expectations, while Quebecers were the least likely (56 per cent). Additionally, managers were more likely (13 per cent) to believe cannabis is accepted in the workplace, compared to non-managers (three per cent).

In addition, the survey found attitudes toward recreational cannabis haven’t changed significantly since legalization. Nearly half (46 per cent) of respondents said their perception of cannabis hasn’t changed at all and 22 per cent said their perception of cannabis is more positive. These positive perceptions are highest in Ontario (27 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (22 per cent).

With the legalization of edibles, extracts and topicals on Oct. 17, 2019, many workplaces are likely to be reviewing and revising their policies around cannabis use. However, 55 per cent of respondents said they don’t believe this impending legalization will change their employer’s expectations around impairment.

Read: Consider health benefits, workplace policies as legal cannabis approaches