News Flash: Legalized Marijuana Creates New Challenges for HR Managers


Legalized Marijuana

On April 13, the federal government proposed legislation to legalize marijuana across Canada. Under the law, each jurisdiction would adopt regulation to licence the cultivation, distribution and sale of marijuana within its boundaries. And while unlawful possession of small amounts of marijuana will be reduced from a crime to a misdemeanor, there will be stepped up penalties for driving while impaired.

What HR Managers Need to Know

You’ll still be able to ban employees from using and being impaired by marijuana at work, even if they obtain it legally, just the way you currently can with alcohol.

What HR Managers Need to Do

You’ll need to adopt the right policy. While it may be morally appealing, the old fashioned “zero tolerance” policy isn’t well suited to the subtle issues raised by legalized marijuana.

Example: A BC glazier was fired after testing positive for marijuana. Although marijuana use was a fireable offence under the company’s zero tolerance policy, the glazier was legally using medical marijuana to treat chronic back pain. And because back pain is a disability under human rights law, the firing was disability discrimination and the company had to not only reinstate the glazier but pay him damages for injuring his “dignity” and “self-respect.”

How HR Insider Can Help

Go to HR Insider for 3 sets of resources  you can use to draft and implement the right substance abuse policy for your workplace, including:

  • Analysis of the legal risks associated with each kind of testing, including random and cause-based drug and alcohol testing;
  • Articles about how to draft substance abuse policies; and

Model substance abuse and testing policies that you can adapt.