February 23, The Trend Towards Legalizing Marijuana Raises Legal Issues for Employers The legalization of marijuana has gone from a pipe dream sorry to reality for some states in recent years. Employers, especially those with workers in different states, should be aware of the new legal ramifications for a social and political issue that will get plenty of scrutiny in the future. Although the legalization of marijuana seems a recent development, there has been a trend toward acceptance of the drug for some time. Medical cannabis was legalized in California in
The Employer legal issue legalization of government has announced its intention to legalize marijuana for non-medical use in the near future. Meanwhile, medical use of marijuana has been on the rise in Canada for some time. The rapid and significant changes to the legal status of marijuana raise new questions and challenges for Canadian employers.
Here, we provide a general overview of the most important things employers should know about marijuana in the workplace: The Government of Canada has announced the legalization of recreational use of marijuana, effective on October 17, Employers will have the right to set rules for non-medical use of marijuana in the workplace in much the same way that employers currently set rules for use of alcohol.
In particular, employers may prohibit the use of marijuana at work or during working hours and may also prohibit employees from attending work while impaired. The duty to accommodate, as required by provincial and federal human rights legislation, extends to disabled employees who use medical marijuana.
These employees are to be accommodated in the same way as an employer accommodates any other disabled employee who has been prescribed medication. Accommodation is also required for employees who may have an addiction disability. However, the duty to accommodate is not without limits. Human rights legislation requires that a disabled employee be accommodated.
What, precisely, does this mean in the context of medical marijuana? A prescription for medical marijuana does not entitle an employee to be impaired at work; A prescription for medical marijuana does not entitle an employee to compromise his or her safety, or the safety of others; A prescription for medical marijuana does not entitle an employee to smoke in the workplace; A prescription for medical marijuana does not entitle an employee to unexcused absences or late arrivals; The employer is, however, required to attempt to find suitable workplace accommodation for disabled employees who have a prescription for medical marijuana use, just as would be required for any other disabled employee with a medical drug prescription.
Employers may need to revisit workplace policies that address drug and alcohol use, with attention to two competing obligations: On the other hand, employers must take every reasonable precaution to ensure the safety of their workplaces and they continue to have the right to prohibit impairment on the job.
Advertisement Employers faced with an accommodation request may wish to consider providing similar accommodation measures it does for other disabled employees.
Three recent cases regarding medical use of marijuana shed light on how employers should strike the appropriate balance between these competing obligations. Selkin Lodging, BCHRTthe complainant, a cancer survivor, often smoked marijuana several times throughout the workday to manage chronic joint pain.
Although a doctor had told the complainant he could use marijuana if it worked, the complainant did not have any formal documentation permitting him to lawfully possess and use marijuana for medical purposes.
Prompted by safety concerns, the employer told the complainant he could not continue working if he continued smoking at work. The Tribunal found that the dismissal was not discriminatory. An Alberta arbitration board came to the opposite conclusion in Calgary City v. In this case, the grievor was responsible for operating a grader on city streets.
To address pain caused by a back injury, he obtained a permit for medical marijuana and began using small amounts at night before going to bed. The board of arbitration found that the IME was based on inaccurate information from the employer.
Most notably, there was no evidence of substance abuse or impairment at work. Accordingly, the employer was ordered to reinstate the grievor to his former position.
In M obo another v. V Gymnastics Club, BCHRTa gymnastics coach claimed that her employer had discriminated against her on the basis of physical and mental disability by suspending her employment when she disclosed she used medical marijuana to manage the symptoms of her gastric conditions.
The employer said it was entitled to demand complete abstention from consuming marijuana, both at work and away. It described the position of gymnastics coach as being safety-sensitive, saying that gymnastics presents a very real risk of injury and that most of the individuals with whom the complainant worked were children under the age of The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal declined to dismiss the complaint on a preliminary basis, concluding that a full hearing was necessary to determine whether the role of gymnastics coach was indeed a safety-sensitive position and whether the complainant had been accommodated to the point of undue hardship.
A full hearing on the merits of this case has not yet been held. In light of this conflicting case law, employers may wish to seek legal guidance on whether — and how — to accommodate an employee who has been prescribed medical marijuana.
The changes to the legal status of marijuana have created unique and unprecedented challenges for employers. It may seem daunting; however, employers need not change their practices drastically.
To accommodate an employee who uses medical marijuana, an employer can start by mirroring the practices it has developed for accommodating any employee who has been prescribed drugs that have the potential to impact or impair his or her work.
To limit the use of non-medical marijuana at work, an employer can look to existing practices related to use of alcohol, other prescription drugs or cigarettes. Nevertheless, there will be some changes. It is likely that zero tolerance workplace policies for marijuana use or possession will become unenforceable.
We may also see employees begin to request or negotiate for coverage under health and benefits plans for medical marijuana prescriptions. With time, however, many issues and uncertainties surrounding the use of marijuana will be litigated.Employers need to anticipate those challenges and plan ways to maintain profitability, productivity, safety, and flexibility while litigation and case law sort out state laws that conflict with federal laws and from state to state.
Employer Legal Issue – Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado Colorado voters have unfortunately approved Amendment 64, legalizing marijuana, which shall take into effect as of January 5th, As with alcohol, marijuana can be sold to those twenty-one and over.
Drug Testing and Employer Policies. The first major issue that comes into play with regard to the legalization of marijuana is drug testing in the workplace. Generally, an employer is permitted to conduct preemployment, random, or reasonable suspicion drug testing provided it has an effective drug and alcohol policy.
Employer Legal Issue – Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado Colorado voters have unfortunately approved Amendment 64, legalizing marijuana, which shall take into effect as of January 5th, As with alcohol, marijuana can be .
Legalization for recreational use will undoubtedly be a challenge for employers. This national webinar will include experts from our Calgary, Toronto, and Halifax offices and will address issues of occupational health and safety, human rights accommodation, and how employers can practically manage in this changing landscape.
Nov 06, · Conflict with Federal Law. Federal law prohibits the use of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes. Medical marijuana laws currently exist in 17 states and the District of Columbia.