While the medicinal use of marijuana has been permissible in Canada for some time, the Cannabis Act legalized the drug for recreational use nationwide as of Oct. 17, 2018. Also known as Bill C-45, this federal law is designed to establish a regulatory framework, particularly as it relates to the production, distribution, sale, cultivation and possession of cannabis across Canada.
Cannabis Act Items of Note
The following are some of the major items of note regarding the Cannabis Act:
- Usage and growing limits—Those who are 18 years of age or older will be allowed to buy and grow a limited quantity of marijuana for personal use. Specifically, those of age can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public, share up to 30 grams of dried marijuana with other adults, and buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer.
- Criminal offences—The Cannabis Act will ticket individuals who exceed possession limits, enforce up to 14 years in jail for an illegal distribution or sale, and impose tough new penalties of up to 14 years in jail for those that give or sell marijuana to minors.
- Provincial involvement—Under the Cannabis Act, the provinces and territories will authorize and oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis, which will be subject to minimum federal requirements. In areas where there is no regulated retail framework, individuals would be able to purchase cannabis online from a federally licensed producer via secure home delivery.
Recommendations for Employers
While it is uncertain how much the legalization of recreational marijuana will impact the workplace, it will likely have a direct effect on workplace health and safety, the use of motor vehicles for work purposes, the scope and type of disciplinary procedures, work performance and work attendance.
To appropriately respond to the Cannabis Act, employers should consider doing the following:
- Review and understand cannabis legislation and guidelines that apply to the provinces in which they operate.
- Review and amend existing workplace policies and procedures as needed. Provide copies of these policies to all employees.
- Conduct a hazard and job-safety assessment.
- Hold training sessions for all employees and managers.
- Train management on how to identify signs of impairment and how to respond appropriately.
Addressing substance use and impairment in the workplace is a complex process. Employers are expected to establish policies and procedures for managing impairment and to do so in a confidential and empathic manner. In addition, if accommodations are necessary, employers must work alongside employees and medical professionals to ensure a collaborative, safe and healthy workplace.
This is a lot of responsibility, and it can be difficult to know where to turn to for supplemental information and assistance. In addition to seeking the advice of qualified legal professionals, your insurance broker can be an invaluable resource. Contact your insurance broker today to learn more.
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