It’s been a hot topic for months and as the legalization of cannabis comes into effect on October 17, people are wondering what it means in the world of work.

The cans and can’ts of legalization

Think of legalized cannabis the same way you would alcohol—many of the same rules and regulations apply, including:

  • You have to be 18+ to purchase or smoke it
  • You can only purchase from licensed stores or
  • You can only purchase or carry 30 grams at a time
  • You can only grow four plants per household
  • You can’t smoke or vape in some public places
  • You can’t drive while high
  • You can’t have it can’t within reach of anyone in a vehicle

Joints on the job

Again, just like alcohol, employers will have the right to set and enforce rigid policies around impairment in the workplace.

In most work environments, safety is of the utmost importance, and to uphold that, it is crucial for both employers and employees to share the responsibility of keeping everyone safe. To do that, the Government of Canada suggests some simple guidelines.

Employers should:

  • ensure the health and safety of all employees at work
  • address physical and/or psychological hazards in their workplace, including when impaired.
  • work with employee representatives to develop, implement and evaluate a hazard prevention program to monitor and prevent hazards
  • include policies on substance use and impairment in a hazard prevention programs when the use of cannabis and other causes of impairment represents a hazard

If you don’t yet have a cannabis policy in place, you can use the Government of Alberta’s Sample Workplace Impairment Prevention Policy Template as a guide.

Employees must:

  • work safely
  • understand the impact that using substances (medical/therapeutic or non-medical) can have on their safety and that of others
  • report to their employer any item or circumstance that is likely to be hazardous to the employees or any other person in the work place
  • inform their employer if a medical condition or treatment may cause impairment and impact their ability to perform their job safely
  • follow all instructions provided by the employer concerning the health and safety of employees

If you’re unsure about your company’s policy, check in with your HR department.

Get informed

When in doubt, it’s always best to practice common sense. If you wouldn’t drink on the job, don’t consume cannabis on the job.

For more information, visit the Government of Canada’s Cannabis in Canada site and the Government of Alberta’s Cannabis Framework and Legislation.

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