According to the Alberta Trends report, more HR professionals are starting to educate themselves on the legalization of marijuana and the associated impact this will have on drug and alcohol policies. This seems to be especially true for the Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, and Construction sectors where there are more likely to be safety sensitive positions.
As per Robert Weir and Adam Pennell from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, “Employers will have to review and amend existing workplace policies and procedures once the Cannabis Act comes into force. This legal change may also require a social shift away from traditional views on the recreational use of marijuana. One key change will include removing any express policy references to marijuana usage as an illegal "off-duty" activity. While such activity will no longer be illegal, employers can still restrict the use and possession of marijuana in the workplace.” This can be incorporated to existing drugs and alcohol in the workplace policies. As a company would require an employee to report to work fit for duty, the same would apply for recreational marijuana.
Another point is in regards to medical marijuana. Employers need to treat the medical marijuana component as prescription drugs to treat a medical condition. As there are policies that should be in place for employees’ use of prescription drugs in the workplace, this policy should be linked to medical marijuana.
As per the Alberta trends report, 71% of organizations already have sufficient policies that address alcohol; these policies being more common in Construction, Oil and Gas, and retail industries. Only 24% report having policies regarding medical marijuana and fewer than 15% have account for legalized recreational marijuana. It seems from the trends reporting that the larger organizations are more prepared for this change compared to the smaller ones.
Regardless of the industry type or even the size of an organization, it appears evident that the evolving issues around legalization of marijuana will be a challenge for all parties. Individuals will need to learn the new environment and rules that will apply to them, and organizations will need to view their policies in a manner that will require periodic review and adjustment. As these practices become more common and refined, the expectation is for organizations to develop a more robust and comprehensive approach to legalized marijuana.