Canadian Contractor

John Bleasby   

Will your workers be blazing today?

Canadian Contractor

Legalized marijuana throws a multitude of issues in the wind

Last December, Canadian Contractor posted a summary of issues confronting contractors across the country regarding legalized marijuana. Not much has changed in terms of the need to have policies for both recreational and medical use.

With legalized marijuana starting today, maybe it’s appropriate for you to review what we said then.

The problem is, provincial regulations regarding marijuana on the work site vary across the country. For example, in most provinces like Ontario, it’s zero tolerance. In others, marijuana will be treated like smoking — not allowed while working but permitted on breaks. At the same time, from an occupational health and safety standpoint coast-to-coast, no one on the work site will be permitted to work while impaired.

Tokin’ on the job site today? Not so fast, buddy!

One current challenge is that no one can say for sure how much cannabis causes impairment and what the indications might be from one person to another. In that way, cannabis differs from alcohol, and therefore must be addressed differently. At the same time, using medical marijuana is a right for employees with chronic disorders who hold a prescription or doctor’s letter specifying that fact. While transparency in advance by the employee is critical, employers must find a way to accommodate a bonafide medical need. In other words, a new specific policy must be drawn up.


But what policy route to take? It’s best to speak with your legal advisor about the benefits of having either a policy containing appropriate safeguards, or one that just says “No”.

You may still have unanswered questions. Here are a few blogs from McMillan Law concerning marijuana in the workplace. McMillan Law has offices across Canada and in Hong Kong. Last year, representatives made an in-depth presentation at the 2017 Building Show last November in Toronto

Can an impaired worker by terminated?

What are the risk of medical marijuana for employers?

How should medical marijuana be accommodated?

Can I randomly test my employees for drugs?

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