Conference answers common questions about employment and cannabis

The impending legalization of marijuana has raised a number of questions for people across the country. A recent conference in Alberta, ‘Cannabis at Work,’ broached the topic for employers seeking more information on the subject. Employers say the drug is being used by an increasing number of employees for medical reasons. They also have questions about the implications of legalization and how the drug may affect employment issues such as worker safety and productivity.

The sold-out conference took place on Monday, Oct. 2. Topics included the medicinal uses of marijuana, different compounds in cannabis and how people are affected by the drug. Employers also learned the difference between THC and CBD cannabis. The latter is used to treat many conditions and has no psychoactive effects — a fact of which many employers were not aware.

The rights and responsibilities of employers and employees under Alberta employment law were also discussed at the conference. Employers learned that they have a duty to accommodate a medical disability, including one that requires a cannabis prescription. However, this must be balanced with their duty to maintain a safe workplace. Jobs that require a high level of awareness and cognitive function, such as operating heavy machinery, were advised to institute fair and responsible policies for these situations.

Understanding rights and responsibilities under Alberta employment law is critical to the maintenance of a safe and well-functioning workplace. Employers who have questions about challenging situations, including those involving medical accommodation and drug impairment, should speak with a lawyer. Employees who feel that an issue has been mismanaged by their employer should also contact a lawyer to understand their options.

Source: CBC News, “Calgary conference helps employers come to grips with marijuana boom“, Dan Mcgarvey, Oct. 2, 2017

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