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[HR] Bill C-45 Gets Royal Assent – Cannabis Legal in Canada by October 2018

On June 19th 2018, Canadian Senators have voted to pass the federal government’s bill legalizing recreational marijuana by a vote of 52-29 and recreational marijuana will officially become legal in Canada on Oct. 17, 2018, the prime minister announced on Wednesday afternoon.

The lastest is that Royal assent has been granted for the bill on June 21st 2018.

Employers must have policies in place permitting the medical use of marijuana in the workplace where supported by appropriate medical evidence, as a form of accommodation. On the other hand, employers continue to have the right to prohibit impairment on the job, particularly in safety-sensitive positions. Where an employee claims medical need for marijuana, the request will have to be treated in the same manner as any other request for medical accommodation.

In the context of non-medical use, marijuana (whether legal or not) may continue to be treated in much the same way as the use of alcohol under an organization’s Workplace Drug & Alcohol Policy. Employers will have the right to prohibit the use of marijuana during work hours, and to further prohibit attendance at work while impaired.

It is strongly recommended that business owners/employers should formulate or update drug and alcohol policies to specifically address marijuana use (or resulting impairment) at work, including a duty (by employee) to disclose any use of marijuana in the workplace, as well as the consequences of non-compliance. It is also a good idea to modify human rights and accommodation policies to specifically deal with issues relating to marijuana dependency and to introduce protocols for the accommodation of medical marijuana use at work.

A full text of Bill C-45 is available for review here.

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