Workshop ponders new world of cannabis in the workplace

Troy Shantz

Taking a “smoke break” at work may mean something completely different after July 1, 2018.

As the province refines Canada’s legal cannabis legislation, employers are wondering what it means for workers on the job.

A workshop hosted by Lambton Public Health on Nov. 21 aims to ready employers for the new world of legal recreational marijuana.

“Employers are concerned about how they’re going to support their employees,” said health promoter Martina Jackson. “There’s also a concern about the difference between medicinal marijuana use and recreational use, and how that’s going to look in the workplace.”

Susan J. Houston, a Sarnia-based employment lawyer, said the discussion format should help businesses appreciate the need for updated impairment policies.

“Employers should be very aware of what the job duties are, and be observant as to whether employees are carrying out their job safely, to put it bluntly,” she said.

Houston, who has participated in several of these events since last year, said the focus shouldn’t be on cannabis specifically but on impairment in general.

“It’s no different from any other issue affecting safety in the workplace, ensuring employees are fit to work,” said Houston, of Mathews, Dinsdale and Clark LLP.

“The same existing body of law will apply as it does for any other issue of legal or illegal substance use in the workplace.”

Also participating in the half-day workshop is Tony George, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto and head of the Addictions Division of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

The workshop takes place Nov. 21 at the Lambton College Event Centre, beginning at 7:30 a.m. with presentations starting at 8 a.m.

Cost is $49 per person. To register, visit http://bit.do/cannabisworkplace or call 1-800-387- 2882.