Canada: Medical Cannabis & Undue Hardship

In the recent decision of Lower Churchill Transmission Construction Employers' Association and IBEW, Local 1620, arbitrator John Roil, QC, dismissed a grievance where an employer, Valard Construction LP (the "Employer") refused to hire an employee using medical cannabis, on the basis of undue hardship.


The Grievor applied for the position of Utility Person on the Churchill project with the Employer. The Grievor used medical cannabis to manage pain relating to osteoarthritis and Crohn's Disease. The medical cannabis had been prescribed by the Grievor's physician after attempts at treating his pain with conventional treatments had been unsuccessful. The Grievor ingested 1.5 grams of cannabis at a THC level of less than 20% each evening, through vaporization.

The job that the Grievor had applied for required a satisfactory drug and alcohol test and the Grievor informed the Employer of his cannabis prescription prior to testing. When the results tested positive for THC, the Employer sought further medical information regarding the Grievor's cannabis prescription. The Grievor's prescribing physician provided information to the effect that while the Grievor should not drive for four hours after inhaling the cannabis, he could perform his day time job without impairment. Dissatisfied, the Employer sought further information.

While the Employer was awaiting the additional information, the Grievor sought to apply for another position which had been posted, that of an Assembler. When the Employer refused to consider him for the position while waiting for the additional medical information, the Union filed a grievance on behalf of the Grievor. The Union argued that the Grievor had the necessary qualifications and experience to perform the work for which he had applied and that the Employer's refusal to accommodate and individually assess the Grievor's ability to perform the work, was a failure to accommodate him and a violation of his human rights. The Union also pointed out that the Grievor had worked without issue for another employer on the Churchill project, while undergoing cannabis treatment.

The Employer argued that the positions that the Grievor had applied for were safety sensitive and that as part of the Employer's legal obligation to ensure a safe workplace under occupational health and safety legislation, it had to determine whether the Grievor was able to work without impairment. The Employer stated that it had sought information to assess the Grievor's situation on an individual basis but that the amount of information provided by the prescribing physician was limited. The Employer further argued that because there was no way to measure impairment from the Grievor's use of cannabis as there was no test for measuring current impairment from cannabis, it increased the workplace safety risk and this amounted to undue hardship.


Based on the evidence, the Arbitrator found that the positions that the Grievor had applied for, were safety-sensitive. The Arbitrator also found that the Grievor had a disability, which required accommodation and that this accommodation had to be determined on the basis of an individualized assessment and in order to do this assessment, the Employer needed reasonable medical information.

Based on the expert testimony provided, the Arbitrator noted that THC can cause impairment, and that depending on the dose, the impairment could last up to 24 hours after last use because of the long half-life of THC. The Arbitrator further noted that as there currently is no test to accurately measure impairment arising from the regular use of cannabis, the use by the Grievor of medical cannabis was a legitimate safety concern in relation to safety sensitive positions and that under the Occupational Health and Safety Act regulation, workers are prohibited from being on a job site while their ability to perform work is impaired. Given these circumstances, it would be undue hardship for the Employer to permit the Grievor to work in the positions that he had applied for. At page 60, the Arbitrator stated, "if the Employer cannot measure impairment, it cannot manage risk". The Arbitrator also noted that it would not be possible to address these issues through random testing, given the lack of ability to measure current impairment from THC use.

Employer Takeaways.

  • Accommodating an employee who uses medical cannabis in a safety sensitive position would amount to undue hardship as it poses an increased safety risk, which an employer cannot measure as there is no ability to measure current impairment from use of THC.
  • Accommodation of an employee using medical cannabis must be assessed on an individualized basis.
  • Random testing is not a solution, as there is no testing available to accurately measure current impairment of regular cannabis use.
  • Although it may amount to undue hardship to permit an employee who uses medical cannabis to work in a sensitive position, the employer's duty to accommodate would require the employer to explore other options such as placing the employee in a non-safety sensitive position.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions