Cannabis policy rolls up in the workplace

Employers learn from WorkplaceNL on how to update their policies for marijuana legalization.

Margaret Harvey

Marijuana. Cannabis. Weed. Mary Jane. The Devil’s Lettuce. Call it what you want; it’s been the talk of the country, nay, the world. As of Wednesday, Canada became the second country to fully legalize cannabis.

People are stoked and according to a CBC article in less than 24 hours the province already has a shortage marijuana.

Tweed Inc. on Water Street has some strains on display for customers. The displays feature magnifying glasses so you can get a closer look. Margaret Harvey/Kicker

But what does legalization mean for employers?

Jane Eustace is an industrial hygienist with Workplace NL, and has been dubbed the “cannabis expert,” in her office. She held a seminar last week at the Newfoundland Construction Association to educate employers on cannabis and guide them on what to include in their policy updates.

The two-hour seminar was jam-packed with information from terminology to accommodations for medical cannabis users in the workplace.

“There’s actually quite a lot of different ways people can consume cannabis,” Eustace told the room, “which is a key point to keep in mind as far as how you word and write your policies. For example, if you don’t include anything but smoking, you could be really missing a big chunk of ways people could be bringing cannabis on your properties.”

And regarding medical use, she strongly advised employers obtain a doctor’s note stating that the employee can still do their list of duties on the job. The note, she said, must come from a doctor practicing in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“You want that doctor to basically say ‘at these levels, this person can carry on with their work or not,’” she said.

She said if the employer can’t find other work for that employee which would allow them to work safely and effectively while medicated, then they might have to be laid off.

The way employers handle impairment on the job is entirely up to their own discretion. They can rewrite and enforce policies as they choose.

Tweed Inc. is the biggest seller of marijuana in the province. They claim the first legal gram was sold at their location on Water Street. Margaret Harvey/Kicker

Jordan Brown, an offshore cook, hasn’t consumed marijuana in about two years. But on Wednesday, he purchased cannabis at a retail outlet.

He said he stopped when he got hired because of drug tests.

The rules for cannabis at work, Brown said, remain unclear. People who drink alcohol can still pass drug tests and go offshore, but they aren’t allowed to consume it while on the rig.

“Now that it’s legal, I don’t know if they’re going to start changing it and making it the same rules as alcohol,” Brown said.

Meantime, he’s looking forward to relaxing and testing out his latest purchase from Tweed.


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