Weed and the workplace: Are employers equipped for the implications?

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Weed and the workplace: Are employers equipped for the implications?
WATCH: With weeks left before marijuana becomes legal, many are wondering if corporate Calgary is ready to deal with it. Employers admit they're far from prepared to manage the hazy implications in the workplace. Jill Croteau reports – Sep 13, 2018

An innovative co-working space in Calgary has found itself among the city’s countless other employers who are in a hazy fog of unknowns when it comes to how to approach the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis.

Chris Kneeland, the COO of Communo, says nobody is developing workplace policies on how to manage what will happen when recreational marijuana becomes legal next month.

“We cannot find anybody who has addressed any aspect of HR implications,” he said on Thursday. “Everyone is talking about use and distribution and I think we are about to get slapped in the face with a bunch of realities we don’t know how to deal with.”

It’s why Communo opened up its compound on Thursday morning to be a backdrop for the conversation. The company invited educators to conduct a workshop on how marijuana will impact the workplace.

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A file photo of Communo in Calgary. Jill Croteau

“It’s silly to suggest this isn’t going to become as pervasive as alcohol is in corporate cultures,” Kneeland said.

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“We are just burying our heads in the sand pretending like this is a problem that’s somehow going to solve itself.”

The editor-in-chief of Your Workplace magazine says most employers aren’t equipped.

“We’ve been talking about this for a long time, knowing it’s coming up,” Vera Asanin said. “Employers are not ready for it. There was wishful thinking it would disappear, but we are giving participants here information to create their own policy.”

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

Kneeland is grateful to have the dialogue.

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“I don’t want to have a blanket statement [like], ‘You can’t do it ever, at anytime,'” he said.

“Is it going to be as common as a smoke break? Is that even a bad thing? We have this fear of a Dorito-eating, lazy couch slob getting high as opposed to reducing social anxiety or overcoming mental health issues. It might be a good thing.” Kneeland said.

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