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Marijuana: It Is Only Impairment

Wow, I cannot believe the excitement, confusion, frustration and even hysteria that the legalization of marijuana has caused for employers in Canada. Everyone, including lawyers, consultants, and regulatory bodies, has been up in arms for months on what policies we need and what training we are going to do. So, let me be direct – it really is simple; it is all about impairment. No one within the workplace can be impaired while working. It really is that simple.

Treat the use of recreational cannabis no differently than alcohol. If an employee is impaired at work then they will be sent home and the employer will follow the disciplinary policy. Similar to alcohol and other illegal drugs, no one can bring it to work, sell it, share it, or consume it on your work property. That is a workplace rule, nothing has changed. It does not matter that cannabis is legal. The answer is that employees cannot have it on your worksite and they cannot come into work impaired by its use. This includes smoking, eating, oil-based products, and any other method of ingestion, inhalation or absorption. If an employer suspects that an employee is impaired, the employee will be sent home and they won’t be able to drive.

“But it’s a prescription,” they say. The use of prescription cannabis is no different than any other medication. If the medication causes impairment, you cannot be at work. Most medications take a bit of time for someone to adjust to the dosage or realize the affects, which is why the label on the bottle usually provides a caution about operating equipment and the possible levels of impairment. The effects of any medication differ from person to person depending upon their metabolism, size, and tolerance. The only measure used at work is whether or not there is “impairment to the ability to safely perform work and tasks”. Of course, there may be times when an accommodation is required. In such cases, an employee only needs to ask their supervisor/manager/employer.

Please just relax and stop stressing the legalization of marijuana, it really is only about impairment.


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