Canada: Steps Employers Can Take To Maximize Employee And Organization Protection

If you are uneasy about the legalization of cannabis, you are not alone. A Globe and Mail article on March 4, 2018, cited a Human Resources Professional Association survey that found that 71% of human resource professionals did not feel that their workplaces were ready for the legalization of marijuana this summer.

This article is provided to help you focus on how to get ready.

Remember that employers already have many of the tools needed to manage impairment issues involving alcohol abuse and prescription drug use. In the past, employers have had to assess an employee's ability to work and if the employee was impaired and how to accommodate and/or discipline.

Recommended Best Next Steps Before Legalization

  1. Spend time now to determine what your culture is regarding cannabis in the workplace.

    • This requires leadership from the top.
    • Once marijuana is a legal substance, employers cannot assume that employees will know the rules or expectations.
    • It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that the expectations of the workplace are clearly outlined just as it does for a whole host of other workplace issues e.g. call in procedure and approving overtime.
    • Questions to consider: At your organization, can employees do their work if they are under the influence of a substance, like cannabis? Can employees bring cannabis to work? To their car in the Company parking lot? Can they smoke cannabis at Company sponsored social events? While on business trips? What about edible products? What happens if an employee does this? What are the safety implications for your work environment?
    • If it is now a legal substance, like alcohol, and alcohol is permitted and even supplied by the employer at certain events, do you have to distinguish the use of cannabis?
    • When developing the employer's approach to these issues, consider how the approach may vary for alcohol, recreational marijuana, prescription marijuana, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter drugs that impair ability to work and illegal drugs.
    • Consider the provincial laws that will impact possession and use.
  2. Incorporate that culture into your written policy about drugs and alcohol in the workplace. This list focuses on the cannabis aspects of the policy, which should include:

    • Clearly sets out your expectations based on your company culture. In most companies, this will start with an absolute prohibition against use, possession or impairment in the workplace.
    • However, the policy must recognize the obligation to accommodate medical marijuana, other prescription drugs and employees suffering from addictions.
    • Firmly state obligation and commitment to provide a safe environment and refer to your separate safety policy where all employees, including management, have obligations to follow safety rules and report unsafe work conditions.
    • Place onus on employees to self-disclose use, addiction and/or impairment.
    • Place onus on employees to provide medical evidence of required use of medical marijuana at work. Get all the particulars you need if medical information is vague.
    • Reserve the right to remove from workplace and/ or modify duties to address impairment issues.
    • Outline steps if breach of policy and refer to separate progressive discipline Policy.
    • Reference the employee's right to privacy will be balanced with other obligations such as safety in the workplace.
    • Confirm commitment to assistance and counselling.
    • Testing process may be part of policy. Under what circumstances is the Company testing and how.
    • Reference an Accommodation Policy – where an employee has an obligation to disclose any disability which impacts their ability to perform their work and where the employer agrees on a modified plan for performing work.
  3. If there is an existing policy check to ensure that updated. Old policies often refer to legal vs. illegal substances. This will no longer be an applicable distinction for cannabis.
  4. Revisit all Job Descriptions and classify safety sensitive positions or duties.
  5. Train Management:

    • Update skills through further training on signs of impairment – e.g. physical signs, performance of work, overall behaviour, comparing the employee's mannerism to other days when no performance issues.
    • Advise of obligation to act on any information obtained or perception of an employee's impairment.
    • Remind managers of their own personal obligations and liabilities under safety laws.
    • Stress importance of privacy re: medical information and disclosure of disabilities.
    • Train in the use of a centralized source for the collection and retention of medical or disability information e.g. Human resources so that the left hand and the right hand are working together.
    • Provide managers tools/ procedures for managing a breach. Walk through the steps to be taken in the event of various scenarios.
    • Ensure any evidence of a breach is preserved.
  6. Train Staff:

    • Ensure the expectations in the policy are explained.
    • Zero tolerance / prohibition clear.
    • Outline resources available to assist e.g. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP).
    • Consider making a commitment of no reprisals for self-disclosure whether recreational or otherwise.
    • Ensure health and safety obligations are revisited regularly.
  7. Consider retaining counselling / EAP program.
  8. Plan your course of action if an employee was to self-disclose an addiction or produce a doctor's note:

    • Understand what accommodations are needed
    • Obtain specific medical direction
    • Determine details of the use. May be flexibility to medicate at other hours (e.g. outside of work hours) or in other places, etc.
    • Consider sending the job description for the doctor's review to determine if safe to medicate for that job.
    • Review job description with employee to determine modifications required.
  9. Balancing Interests:

    • Other workers – concerns about second hand smoke and odours in the workplace.
  10. Ensure that policy is enforced consistently - all aspects against all employees all the time.
  11. Know your Rights:

    • Where there is a zero tolerance policy, impairment from recreational use at work (if not an addiction and not prescribed for a disability), employers can discipline (and possibly fire) for breach of policy. If no disability and not prescribed, will not be a breach of the human rights laws.

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
Torkin Manes LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Torkin Manes LLP
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