Rock to Road

Editorial: Up in smoke

Marijuana legalization has companies changing their playbooks

October 16, 2018  By  Andrew Snook

Photo: Fotolia

Unless you’ve had your head in the clouds then you’ve heard about the upcoming changes coming into effect related to recreational marijuana use across Canada.

On October 17, the Government of Canada will legalize recreational marijuana use and allow for citizens to purchase upwards of 30 grams of the drug per sale.

Since the news of marijuana becoming legalized, many companies have had their human resources professionals working overtime re-writing their hiring practices and work guidelines and rules. This is particularly true in the construction industry.

Will the changing legislation allow employees to smoke a joint then jump into an excavator or crane and go to work? Absolutely not. But marijuana isn’t the same as alcohol. Effects from the drug can carry on from the night before and impact someone’s performance on a jobsite. So how do companies manage their employees using a legal drug recreationally on their own time? Some companies will need a new approach. According to Cann Amm Occupational Testing Services senior manager Dan Demers, that approach should include a fit-for-duty program that includes policy, training and compliance measures.


During the 2017 edition of the Crane Rental Association of Canada’s annual conference, Demers told the crowd that these types of programs “cover all of the marijuana considerations; including considerations to current legal access for medical purposes and potential recreational accessibility in safety sensitive workplaces.”

Construction work zones certainly qualify for safety sensitive workplaces. But where some companies were used to arguing that marijuana was illegal to the general public (without a prescription), hence, illegal in the workplace, the waters do appear to be muddier. So how do ensure that your company is properly prepared for the legalization of marijuana? Get informed. Talk to lawyers, human resources professionals, workplace consultants and anyone else that might be able to provide answers to a clear legal path for dealing with this new law.

Not sure where to start? Well, thanks to Rock to Road’s sister publication OHS Canada, there’s an informative forum set up to help address your pot problems. On November 14, OHS Canada will host its symposium, “Marijuana in the workplace: Best practices for your company and employee expectations.”

The symposium is for occupational health and safety leaders and decision makers across all industries and will bring together a panel of experts and industry leaders who will address hot-button issues regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana and its implications on workplace safety in Canada. The event will offer attendees insights on compliance, rights and learn best practices in ensuring fitness for duty, manage worker expectations and balance compliance/enforcement with employee privacy. To learn more, visit

And make all your worries surrounding marijuana legalization go up in smoke.

Print this page


Stories continue below