August 22, 2018 9:58 pm

Employers say adjusting to marijuana in the workplace will be a ‘learning curve’

Employers in Kingston are making changes to policies in preparation for the legalization of marijuana.


It’s going to be uncharted territory for employers once marijuana is made legal across the country.

It’s still unclear how they will be able to handle the change. In a recent survey conducted by Mercer Canada, only one in three employers felt prepared for the impending changes coming on October 17th. Some companies are changing policies as the date looms, adjusting to how they will respond once their employees can legally carry marijuana.

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“It’s going to be a learning curve on how to deal with this,” said Ed Smith, owner of Windmills Restaurant in Kingston.

Smith tells CKWS he has already made some revisions to adjust. “We have basically added marijuana into the same category as alcohol.”

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That policy is used throughout most companies, restricting employees from consuming alcohol or even carrying it into their place of work. Kalen Ingram with the Kingston law firm Cunningham Swan says Smith is on the right track.

“We have the blueprint for how to deal with it with existing policies and practices with respect to alcohol and other prescription drugs.”

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One of the complications with marijuana in the workplace is how employers will be able to detect it. Smith says he isn’t too concerned with this aspect, as there are ways to observe if your employees could be coming to work while high.

“If someone is coming to work and their eyes are glazed over, marijuana has a strong odour,” Smith said. “It’s just like alcohol; you can smell it on their breath.”

READ MORE: UPDATE: Cannabis store held up in Tyendinaga Territory

Ingram says one of the main concerns companies should be mindful of is health and safety.

“There’s obligations on employers to take all reasonable precautions to protect workers.”

Restrictions and guidelines will be something that employers across the country will have to revisit, once the legal drug will be more readily available to consumers. Although a lot of employers may be worried about what could happen once marijuana is legal, Smith says, he is pretty confident things will work out fine.

“I don’t see it as a big problem. If people want to retain their employment they have to be sober and be able to meet the public.”

Smith may only be a small selection of employers that aren’t too concerned about the change.

Out of 366 respondents on the Mercer Canada survey, half of them say they are worried about the drug. That study found that employers feel the legalization of marijuana is an enterprise-wide concern.




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