Canadian attorneys believe that as the country’s medical marijuana program prepares for an upgrade, it may be time for employers to seriously consider accommodating the working class cannabis user by providing them with benefits like regular marijuana smoke breaks
With the number of patients enrolled in the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulation program, expected to increase from 40,000 to nearly 400,000 by 2024, lawyers like Toronto’s Patrizia Piccolo say employers should probably begin putting medical marijuana policies into place. “It’s like any other medically prescribed painkiller like Tylenol 3. It’s legal,” she said, adding that workplace rules against smoking tobacco do not apply to medical marijuana.
In Canada, random drug and alcohol testing has been labeled an ineffective method for evaluating intoxication; therefore, screenings for impairment are not permitted in the workplace. “You can only justify drug or alcohol testing if there is a good reason to believe the person is abusing drugs,” said Piccolo. “This would not typically be the case in the use of medical marijuana.”
However, employers have the right to establish specific company policies that could prevent cannabis use in the workplace. Last year, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stripped a Mountie of his weapon and prohibited him from operating a patrol vehicle after discovering he was using medical marijuana on duty to treat his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Attorney Tim Mitchell says that while employers can put workers at risk of impairment on restrictive duty, they can also establish rules to weed out those using medical marijuana. “Employers can stipulate that employees cannot come to work impaired; they cannot share their medical marijuana with other employees; and, that unexcused absences or late arrivals will not be tolerated,” he said.
Yet, as Piccolo pointed out: Determining if an employee is a risk for impairment can be difficult, especially since drug testing is not allowed and employees are not required to reveal their use of medical marijuana to their employer.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.