Marijuana and the workplace: The main misconceptions laid bare

The past couple of years have been ones of monumental change in the Canadian employment landscape

Marijuana and the workplace: The main misconceptions laid bare

The past couple of years have been ones of monumental change in the Canadian employment landscape. From minimum wage hikes to legislative changes – new rules have shaped our workplaces. And none more so than the legalization of marijuana.

There’s been a plethora of talk on the issue, it seems as if many HR leaders are still in the dark about how cannabis could impact their companies.

One organization dedicated to changing this is Workplace Safety & Prevention Services. We spoke to their Director of Strategic Relationships, Larry Masotti, who shed some much-needed light on the contentious issue.

“As is often the case with any new legislative mandate, an employer can either be proactive or reactive in relating these changes to the workplace,” prefaced Masotti.

“In most situations, I anticipate that the legalization of cannabis will heighten the awareness of the risk of impairment in all organizations. This new legislation should cause employers to either revisit existing drug and alcohol policies or create new policies addressing the risk of impairment in their respective workplaces.”

According to Masotti, the risks of impairment range from legal or illegal substances - as well as fatigue, certain medical conditions and life stresses.

“The legalization of recreational cannabis should also create opportunities for employers to have those difficult, yet critical conversations that address stigma or preconceived notions around impairment,” he continued. “This could be the organizational catalyst for changing the culture of a workplace. Simply stated, it legally has to be addressed – so why not use it to improve your workplace?

“In considering those organizations that have existing policies, with mature implementation programs, I would expect them to take a more holistic approach by incorporating all the main tenets of organizational culture including workplace violence and harassment, mental harm prevention and the risks of impairment.”

While implementation of this new legalization has been something of a rough road for employers, there’s certain misconception which employers are worrying about needlessly. As Masotti explained

to HRD Canada, the main problem seems to be around staff thinking they can use marijuana on company time.

“Surprisingly, many employees, regardless of position, often surmise that since recreational cannabis is now legal in Canada, it can be brought into the workplace,” continued Masotti. “It’s noteworthy to state that a workplace may be a vehicle as well as a physical facility and its surrounding area. Another misconception pertains to the misunderstanding of the differences between medicinal and recreational cannabis.”

“The differences between the main cannabinoids, that is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol) are important and should be part of the communication plan in any workplace. THC has psychoactive properties, while CBD has medicinal or therapeutic properties. Although cannabis is now legal, it remains an evolving area of learning in both society and workplaces.”

“Lastly, a disconcerting misconception remains that not talking about the new law, or providing training, communication and supplemental resources is not necessary as if the problem will not affect their workplace. This misconception together with the reality that additional changes to both legislation, such as the legalization of edible cannabis products, and the anticipation of these products in the consumer marketplace will ensure that cannabis remains an important topic for the foreseeable future.”

“This is just the beginning of an evolving impairment risk.”

Download this white paper to find out more about how marijuana legalization could impact both your organization and your employees.

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