What Legalized Marijuana Means  for You and Your Workplace
/ Author: CLAC Staff
/ Categories: Local 519, Newsletters, Manufacturing /
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What Legalized Marijuana Means for You and Your Workplace

What are your rights and responsibilities as an employee now that recreational marijuana use is legal in Canada? Here are the answers to six common questions.


1. What workplace rules can I expect now that marijuana is legal?

  • Legalization does not give employees the right to freely use marijuana in the workplace.

  • Employers continue to expect employees to show up sober and ready to work.

  • Subject to medical conditions, employers are still entitled to discipline employees who are high on the job.

  • Employers have the right to set rules for nonmedical marijuana in the workplace in much the same way they set rules for alcohol use.

  • Employers can prohibit its use at work or during working hours and can prohibit employees from coming to work impaired.


2. If I’m caught using marijuana at work, what can happen to me?

  • The same discipline applies to marijuana impairment as alcohol impairment.

  • You will likely be disciplined under your employer’s progressive discipline policy.


3. If I have a medical condition and am prescribed marijuana as a treatment, can I use it at work?

  • Employers still need to adhere to the duty to accommodate for medical marijuana.

  • A prescription does not permit impairment, compromised safety, smoking in the workplace, or unexcused absences.

  • Employers may request proof of the prescription and proof that it must be taken during working hours, as well as details regarding frequency, volume, and method of use.


4. Is there a difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana?

  • Medical marijuana has higher levels of CBD (cannabidiol), the active compound that can counteract the effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychedelic active compound that causes the high.

  • Medical edible potency is frequently higher than its recreational counterpart.

  • Doctors may prescribe strains that are high in CBD to treat schizophrenia, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and other illnesses.

5. Can my employer test me for marijuana use?

  • Yes, if a policy is in place that establishes a framework for testing for impairment, including triggering circumstances and testing methods, possibly including mandatory independent medical examination in appropriate circumstances.

  • Impairment assessment will very likely pose one of the greatest challenges in the crafting and implementing of policies concerning medical and possibly nonmedical marijuana use in the workplace.

  • Human rights laws do not permit preemployment or random testing for drug or alcohol use or impairment.

  • The federal government has been looking into making drug testing mandatory in safety-sensitive jobs (e.g., pilots), which could be subjected to mandatory testing in the future.


6. Can a test determine if I’m impaired from using marijuana?

  • Unlike alcohol, marijuana can be detected days or even weeks after ingestion, but THC levels do not correspond with impairment levels.

  • No medical test is available currently that accurately or reliably indicates the level of a person’s impairment due to marijuana use.

  • A urine test can detect it for weeks or months after it is taken because THC has over 80 metabolites that are stored in body fat and are gradually eliminated from the body through feces and urine.

  • Marijuana use can be detected in your hair for months—even years—while a saliva test will only detect it within 24 hours.

  • THC and its metabolites are detectable in blood only for a short time, between 20 to 90 minutes, and immediate blood tests can only show that there is impairment but not impairment levels.

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