Do you know your cannabis rules at work?

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You may already know that cannabis is legal in Canada and that adults (19 years old and above) are allowed to consume it. But do you know if it’s ok to use it at work?

Can you use cannabis at work?

No. The legalization of cannabis does not give employees the right to use it at work. Unless you’re authorized to consume cannabis for medical purposes (and even then, you’ll have limits), using it prior to work, carrying, or using it in the office are not allowed. Cannabis contains chemical substances (specifically THC) that affects the brain. It can make your reaction time slower, decrease focus, and harm your coordination, among other effects. You cannot work fully if your abilities are impaired by cannabis. It can even be dangerous, especially if you drive a vehicle or operate machinery.

Employers have the right to regulate cannabis use at work and employees have a right to a safe workplace. While there is no prescribed minimum period before work in which employees must abstain from using cannabis, your workplace may have it in the company guidelines. It will be in your best interest to know these rules. Ask your employer about the company’s alcohol and drug policy if you are not clear about them. It would be a good idea to suggest a briefing to revisit these rules. It is possible that your workplace updated its policies in preparation for cannabis legalization.

What other rules should you know about cannabis in the workplace?

Aside from usage, possession of cannabis can be prohibited. Your workplace may not allow bringing cannabis while at work, even if you do not intend to use it. For example, in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s (WRHA) cannabis policy for employees, it says that:

  • WRHA employees cannot possess cannabis in the workplace, even if they don’t plan on using it.
  • WRHA employees can’t purchase cannabis during a break and store it in the workplace until the end of their shift.

WHRA also encourages its employees to tell a manager if they believe themselves or a co-worker is high on the job (The legalization of cannabis and the workplace: What employees need to know, WRHA). Your workplace may have similar guidelines. If your workplace does not have a drug and alcohol policy and you are you interested in learning more about policies and procedures when it comes to impairment at work, Safe Work Manitoba has downloadable resources and free workshops (face-to-face and an e-Learning course) on this topic. Go to this page to know more: Impairment in the workplace. Remember, maintaining a safe workplace is also your responsibility. You don’t have to be a cannabis user to be concerned or to ask about safety rules and regulations.

Watch the video below: Is weed good or bad for you? Everything we know about the health effects of cannabis (Global News)

Sources: Impairment and work safety, Safe Work Manitoba; We warned them this was as rushed job, Manitoba says some pot rules still unclear, Ian Froese, CBC; and Five ways cannabis will impact the workplace, The Chamber Blog; and The legalization of cannabis and the workplace: What employees need to know, WRHA. Retrieved on October 15, 2018.

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