As employers rush to prepare for the legalization of marijuana, a legal expert warns that on top of workplace safety issues, they may also be confronted by more staff with addiction issues – and more accommodation requests.
Some experts predict recreational use of the drug may spike after it's legalized next July.
That may see more people using it to self-medicate for health ailments, with or without their doctor's input, which could create a fresh headache for employers, Blake, Cassels & Graydon partner Holly Reid says.
“Because [workers] are not being supervised in that use by a medical practitioner necessarily, it will be harder for employers to understand where the four corners or their accommodation obligations are."
She’s heard concerns from employers about a possible rise in the number of workers requiring addiction treatment – which may require accommodations.
“I don’t think we know whether there will be an increase in self-dosing or cannabis dependency, but it’s certainly an issue [that’s] unfortunately going to take up more time for human resources professionals – who are already very busy people – to address really tricky accommodation issues … which require companies to take more time and resources to make sure that they get it right.”
Those accommodations could include changes to work scheduling, as well as use and dosage agreements with staff – as employers are currently exploring for medicinal marijuana.
“If the employee oversteps the bounds of that agreement, resulting in potential impairment in the workplace or failure to notify the employer to changes of use and dosage, there will still be the ability to discipline”.
Holly Reid will speak on recreational and medicinal marijuana, and their impacts on the workplace, at the Employment Law Masterclass
on September 25.
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