One-third of Canadian employers feel prepared for the impending legalization of cannabis, according to a new survey by Mercer Canada.

The survey, which polled 366 Canadian employers and more than 1,000 employees, found another third feels somewhat prepared and 27 per cent of employees feel their employer is ready. Among leadership, 78 per cent of human resources leaders, 45 per cent of top executives and 39 per cent of board directors feel legalization is a concern for the whole organization.

The survey also found 90 per cent of employers plan to update their drug, alcohol and substance use policies, while 38 per cent intend to update code of conduct policies and 37 per cent plan to update their disability accommodation.

Read: Canadian employers concerned about implications of cannabis legalization

“Our data shows that although employers are aware that cannabis legalization will have an impact on their workplace, these impacts haven’t been fully examined across the whole of the organization,” said Alex Boucher, principal and total health management leader for Canada at Mercer Canada.

“The implications of legal cannabis consumption should be thought through carefully, across the entirety of an organization’s operations, including situations as diverse as forklift operations, holiday parties and decision critical roles — like key leaders. Organizations should also consider the implications for their employee health benefits plans.”

According to 22 per cent of employees, their workplace has clearly communicated policies around medical cannabis. However, 42 per cent expect to see their health and drug plan provide some coverage of medical cannabis.

“The time to act is now,” said Boucher. “Organizations that wait and see will ultimately be reacting to problems and not proactively taking action to achieve their goals. If you are not completely prepared to respond to needs, inquiries and challenges, your reaction in the moment may put you at risk.”

Read: Many employers not ready for legal marijuana, conference told

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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