cannabis in the workplace

Study: Cannabis policies in Canadian workplaces

Monday, August 19, 2019

Canadian employers have responded admirably to the legalization of cannabis, but there is room for improvement. This is according to the Conference Board of Canada’s recent report, Acting on the Cannabis Act: Workplace Policy Approaches to Cannabis, which examines how home-grown businesses are tackling cannabis policies in their workplaces since the substance was legalized in fall 2018.

“More than two-thirds of respondents felt they were prepared for legalization—a much higher proportion than just six months before,” said Monica Haberl, a senior researcher for the report, noting that 76 per cent of organizations had updated their policies related to cannabis use ahead of legalization.

The stats are promising, but not without some caveats. For one, 60 per cent of the study’s responding organizations did have a definition for impairment within their workplace, creating unclear boundaries and expectations for employees.

“It’s one of the simplest gaps to close,” added Harberl. “Cannabis education offers a practical approach and can be tailored to suit the needs of safety sensitive workplaces as well as those without serious safety concerns.”

Despite this, the report indicates that only a third of the employers surveyed plan to directly provide employees with education or materials on cannabis use.

Other highlights from the Acting on Cannabis Act study include:

  • 52 per cent of highly safety sensitive organizations have introduced zero-tolerance cannabis policies.
  • One in five organizations says they are concerned about problematic substance use in the workplace, 6 per cent are extremely concerned, and 60 per cent are not concerned.
  • Some of the top concerns that employers continue to grapple with include workplace accommodations and alcohol and drug testing.

The Conference Board of Canada plans to release more findings from its report during its Cannabis at Work: One Year Later event on October 15th, 2019 in Toronto.

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