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Canada Becomes Second Country to Approve Legalized Recreational Marijuana Use

Canada approved the legalization of recreational marijuana use with the Senate passing a historic bill on June 19, 2018 with a vote of 52-29. Bill C-45, otherwise known as the Cannabis Act, will restrict use to adults over the age of 18 and allow them to carry and share up to 30 grams of marijuana in public.

This move will deem Canada as the second country in the world following Uruguay to legalize recreational marijuana use. Currently nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow recreational marijuana use, and 30 states allow medicinal. The law will come into effect on October 17, 2018 making employers question what steps they need to take when it comes to drug testing in the workplace. 

What Should US Employers Do?

Although marijuana laws are changing, both inside and outside of the U.S., the rules and regulations remain in place to those drug testing in safety-sensitive industries. If you find yourself on a business trip, or on vacation in another part of the world that allows legal recreational use of marijuana it does not mean you have a “free pass.” Those in safety-sensitive positions could pose a danger to themselves and others in the workplace if under the influence, and regardless of the changing law, if an employee tests positive for THC in a position in which federal laws apply (such as DOT) his/her job is on the line.

DISA’s VP of Compliance and Administration, Frank Bernard adds, “Employers need to ensure that they are effectively communicating their drug testing policies. With laws differing from state-to-state, as well as other countries, providing a clear and concise policy must remain a top priority as employers have the right to enforce a drug-free workplace.”

What Should Canadian Employers Do?

In Canada, Random Testing is more limited, and a special committee on workplace impairment is discussing potential mandatory testing for safety-sensitive positions, like the US. Although marijuana is legal, it does not mean you can show up to work while impaired. Companies should make sure that their policies are updated and thoroughly communicate to employees the repercussions set in place for impairment while on the job.

The office for Canada's Employment Minister said, “The Canadian Human Rights Commission recommends that employers, wherever possible, rely on observation, supervision and frequent face-to-face conversations as the more effective ways to recognize when an employee is impaired.”

DISA recommends education and reasonable suspicion training in order for employers to effectively determine whether an employee needs to undergo reasonable suspicion testing. Training and education will help employers make informed decisions when it comes to safety in the workplace. Training teaches managers to adequately identify the signs and symptoms of drug use, how to professionally approach and handle the situation, and determine when to test or not to test.

Tips for Employers

  • Review your company’s policy regarding drug use and update if necessary.
  • Take local and federal laws into account.
  • Reiterate policies to your workers.
  • Reiterate policies to your workers again!
  • Consistently enforce policies to avoid liability.
  • Educate workers about how marijuana works in the body.

For your individual country, state or local laws, please refer to your legal counsel. DISA's industry best practices are not legal advice and depending on your situation you may want to take a different approach.

How DISA Can Help

Through drug testing services DISA can help you reinforce a safe and secure working environment. Effective drug testing policies help mitigate work-related injuries, reduces turnover rates, and deters employees from using drugs. DISA’s best-in-business practices offer state-of-the-art technology and drug testing methodologies to help you maintain a working environment that is compliant with your industry needs and company standards.

For more than 30 years, DISA has been a provider of workplace safety and compliance services. DISA helps companies make more informed staffing decisions by offering a broad array of industry-leading methodologies to make employee screening faster and more accurate. For more information about DISA workplace drug testing services call 281-673-2530 or email sales@disa.com.