March 23, 2018 by David Gambrill
Employers may be hard-pressed to ban marijuana outright from the workplace once The Cannabis Act is implemented in Canada, a lawyer told delegates attending the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association (OMIA) Thursday.
“Both bills [related to The Cannabis Act, Bills C-45 and C-46] are actually silent when it comes to employment and occupational safety,” said Sandra Gogal, practice leader at Miller Thomson LLP. “At present, there is no Canadian law that regulates mandatory drug testing of employees, so when the recreational market opens up, it creates a number of interesting issues.”
For one, employers will be challenged to uphold outright prohibitions on marijuana in the workplace, based on the difference between recreational and medicinal forms of cannabis. While proposed bills allowing recreational use are still up for debate, medical use of marijuana has been legal in Canada since 1999.
“I had a call from a company the other day that said one of their employees was injured on the job, and as a matter of standard practice, they get drug-tested,” Gogal recounted. “The results came back positive, and they said, ‘Can we fire him?’ And I just said, ‘We don’t know yet whether that was for medical purposes or not.’”
The issue promises to get murkier once recreational drug use is legalized.