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Rules around cannabis and the workplace have not changed although cannabis is now legal.
Legalized cannabis should not change the workplace. Employees and employers already have a shared duty to take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of themselves and others. There will continue to be zero tolerance for any worker who puts colleagues or the public at risk because of impairment.
Prior to federal and provincial legislation coming into force, employers should clearly communicate to all employees their expectations about cannabis use and the workplace. They should review their workplace policies and make appropriate amendments to ensure acceptable work practices and behaviours continue.
Employers are responsible to protect against workplace impairment. It is recommended that every workplace have a workplace impairment policy.
The policy should include a definition of impairment that captures medical marijuana use. It should say when and where medical marijuana use is acceptable. It must treat all prescription drugs equally.
It's important to remember there are a variety of factors that can cause impairment at work. Substance use is one cause. Other causes include stress, fatigue, malnourishment, shift work, and bullying. In every case of workplace impairment, the most important responsibility is to ensure people are safe. That responsibility is shared by workers and employers.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has developed several resources that may be useful:
Impairment policies are especially important for prescribed places of employment and high-hazard work, such as mining. Saskatchewan's mining regulations place the onus on employers to take all reasonable steps to prohibit substance impairment in mining industry workplaces.
All employees have a responsibility to protect their own safety and the safety of others. That means workers are expected to speak up if something is impairing their judgment. It's particularly important for workers whose impairment could compromise the safety of others.
Medical marijuana has been available for nearly two decades and must be authorized by a doctor. Employers will continue to accommodate workers with an authorization from a doctor. Workers cannot decide for themselves that cannabis helps them deal with a health condition.
Employees involved in high-hazard work (such as driving or operating heavy machinery) have a general duty to advise their employer if they've been prescribed a medication with side effects that include impairment.
Some industries can test for impairment in the United States but not in Canada. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes protection from unreasonable search and seizure. That means employers must have a reasonable suspicion an employee is impaired before they can request a drug or alcohol test.
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission Drug & Alcohol Testing – a General Guide has general guidelines related to human rights law for drug and alcohol testing in Saskatchewan.
Workers must show up fit for duty. Under existing legislation, it is unacceptable, dangerous, and illegal to come to work impaired by cannabis, alcohol, or any other intoxicating substance. Consumption of cannabis is also not permitted in public or in workplaces. None of that changes after cannabis is legalized.
Under Saskatchewan law, employers and workers must ensure the health, safety and welfare of other workers. Drug or alcohol impairment violates this basic requirement.
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