Em­ploy­ers hazy on im­pact of pot le­gal­iza­tion

46 per cent of HR pro­fes­sion­als feel their com­pa­nies aren’t ready

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - LISA WRIGHT

TORONTO — Look­ing for­ward to pot be­ing le­gal? Your em­ployer likely isn’t, es­pe­cially if you drive for work or op­er­ate heavy ma­chin­ery.

With less than a year un­til recre­ational mar­i­juana is slated to be­come le­gal in Canada, a new study by the Hu­man Re­sources Pro­fes­sional As­so­ci­a­tion re­veals that many em­ploy­ers feel un­pre­pared for the im­pact that in­creased drug use may have on the work­place.

Nearly half (or 45.9 per cent) of HR pro­fes­sion­als do not be­lieve their cur­rent work­place poli­cies ad­e­quately ad­dress the po­ten­tial new is­sues that may arise with the le­gal­iza­tion and ex­pected in­creased use of mar­i­juana.

In fact only 11 per cent of re­spon­dents said their com­pa­nies have a pol­icy in place to ad­dress med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

“Em­ploy­ers are con­cerned, and both gov­ern­ments and em­ploy­ers have a role to play to en­sure work­places are prop­erly pre­pared for the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana on July 1, 2018,” said Bill Green­halgh, the as­so­ci­a­tion’s chief ex­ec­u­tive.

In the re­port, Clear­ing the Haze: The Im­pacts of Mar­i­juana on the Work­place, the top con­cerns cited by com­pany pro­fes­sion­als in­clude em­ploy­ees op­er­at­ing mo­tor ve­hi­cles and heavy ma­chin­ery, de­creased work per­for­mance and at­ten­dance.

The study makes 10 rec­om­men­da­tions to gov­ern­ments and em­ploy­ers in an ef­fort to pre­pare them for the in­creased use of mar­i­juana, and the ef­fects that le­gal­iza­tion will in­evitably have at work.

They in­clude ask­ing Ot­tawa to main­tain two reg­u­la­tory streams for med­i­cal and recre­ational cannabis, that em­ploy­ers should ex­plore the ben­e­fits of med­i­cal mar­i­juana cov­er­age and en­sure em­ploy­ers are pre­pared to an­swer ques­tions about cov­er­age of med­i­cal mar­i­juana in their ex­tended health care plans.

“Gov­ern­ments must en­sure that is­sues such as the le­gal def­i­ni­tion of im­pair­ment — and how to ac­cu­rately test those lev­els — are re­solved be­fore the le­gal­iza­tion date,” Green­halgh said.

“On the other hand, em­ploy­ers must con­tin­u­ally up­date and com­mu­ni­cate their cur­rent drug poli­cies to em­ploy­ees so ex­pec­ta­tions are clear,” he noted.

A zero tol­er­ance cannabis pol­icy is prob­lem­atic in the work­place be­cause it “could cause dis­crim­i­na­tion against em­ploy­ees who use cannabis to treat or re­lieve the symp­toms of a dis­abil­ity,” the re­port states.

“We have heard from hu­man re­sources pro­fes­sion­als that strict poli­cies and govern­ment guide­lines will be crit­i­cally im­por­tant to safety-sen­si­tive work­places,” added Green­halgh.

Un­like al­co­hol, there is no cur­rent con­sen­sus on safe lim­its for con­sum­ing cannabis, the study notes.

“While a year may sound like a lot to pre­pare for the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana, we are urg­ing em­ploy­ers to act now. In terms of le­gal­iza­tion on a broad scale, Canada is in un­charted ter­ri­tory,” said Green­halgh.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

In just un­der a year, recre­ational pot will be le­gal in Canada.

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