Recreational Marijuana Legalized in Canada- Employers Need to be Ready

The federal government of Canada has announced that as of October 17, 2018, Canadians will be able to possess and consume recreational marijuana under the Cannabis Act.  Employers based in Canada or with workers in Canada should begin preparing for the impact recreational marijuana will have on their workplaces. 

Currently, medical marijuana is legal across Canada.  Employees are generally not allowed to work while impaired by marijuana.  But that rule is subject to reasonable accommodation requirements as with other prescription medications for an employee’s illness, injury, or disability.  There are also accommodation restrictions for employees who work in safety-sensitive positions. 

For recreational marijuana, workers who use cannabis for non-medical purposes will not be allowed to do so at their workplaces.  Employers can require employees to report to work unimpaired and remain sober while working.  Employees can also face legal penalties for violating the laws covering recreational marijuana. 

Ahead of the full legalization date, Canadian employers should begin looking into updating their policies to address both medical and recreational marijuana.