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[HR] Recreational Cannabis & The Workplace

Canada made history on 18 June 2018, as the first G7 country to legalize recreational marijuana. Though the legislative battle over marijuana may be over, Canadians look ahead to 17 October 2018, which is the date legalization takes effect.

Once recreational marijuana is legal, Canadians will be permitted to:

  • purchase fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil, plants and seeds for cultivation from either a provincially or territorially regulated retailer, or — where that option is not available — directly from a federally licensed producer;
  • possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis or its equivalent in public;
  • share up to 30 grams (or its equivalent) of legal cannabis and legal cannabis products with other adults;
  • cultivate up to four plants at home (four plants total per household); and
  • prepare various cannabis products (such as edibles) at home for personal use, provided that no dangerous organic solvents are used in the process.

According to Deloitte, the industry is expected to generate more than $6 billion for Canada’s economy, with $4.3 billion coming from recreational sales and $1.7 billion from medical sales. While there seems to a strong economic incentive overall, there are some practical considerations that should be top of mind for those keen to light up legally, and for workplaces.

Here are some reminders and key points to keep in mind:

  • As is typical of Canada’s federal system — not all provinces and territories are following the same path to legalization. Some are imposing different regulations on the drug within their jurisdictions.
  • Legalization will be regulated at the provincial level. While the upcoming legislation may permit certain activities at the federal level, some provinces may impose their own regulations.
  • Two provinces, Quebec and Manitoba, propose banning home cultivation altogether.
  • Not all provinces will have the same rules for smoking marijuana in public or growing marijuana at home.
  • Adults will be permitted to carry a max of 30 g of marijuana. Possession of over that amount in a public space (including one’s own vehicle) will result in a prison sentence of up to five years.
  • Until Oct. 17, the current law remains in place. Police can still make arrests for possession and Crown attorneys can still prosecute.
  • In Ontario you will only be able to use recreational cannabis in:
    • a private residence, including the outdoor space of a home (for example, a porch or back yard)
    • your unit or on your balcony, if you live in a multi-unit building like an apartment or condo, but that depends on your building’s rules or your lease agreement
  • You will not be allowed to use recreational cannabis in:
    • any public place
    • workplaces
    • motorized vehicles
    • These rules will be in place to protect people from second-hand cannabis smoke, and reduce youth and young adult exposure to cannabis.
  • Using cannabis in public can result in a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offence and $5,000 for subsequent offences.
  • It is illegal to drive drug-impaired and it’s just as dangerous as driving drunk. Cannabis, like many other drugs, slows your reaction time and increases your chances of being in a collision.
  • Consuming recreational cannabis in the workplace is illegal and will continue to be after legalization on October 17, 2018.
  • Employers (and supervisors):
    • need to know the rules for medical cannabis
    • will be required to address workplace hazards, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)
  • Employees and workers:
    • who are unable or unfit to work safely could be a hazard to themselves or to others in the workplace
    • have a duty to perform work safely and to report any hazards to their supervisor or employer under the OHSA

As a best practice, it is strongly advisable that employers create, and communicate robust policies regarding narcotic substance (including marijuana) and alcohol in the workplace. If you require assistance with this, please review resources available in the HR Toolkit section, accessed via your Beneplan client login, at our website, or call the Beneplan provided, complimentary HR Consultant @ 1 800 387 1670 x 268.

Please review additional rules related to cannabis use in the workplace, including for commercial driving, where you can use recreational cannabis and using medical cannabis in the workplace, by utilizing the links below:

More information on Cannabis Legalization in Ontario

More information on Impairment and Workplace Health & Safety

More Information from the Ontario Ministry of Transport on Impaired Driving

More information on the Medical Use of Cannabis

Alternatively, speak with Beneplan to set up a call with us.