‘Got to Get You into My Life’[i]
Paul McCartney’s love song to pot
With the legalization of cannabis, employers, companies and employees now wonder how to deal with this new chemical in the workplace. Although HR departments already deal with alcohol, nicotine and other recreational drugs, (and I refer to HR staff using these drugs to handle stress) cannabis challenges them even further.
The provinces intend to pass their own cannabis legislation. The Ontario Cannabis Act (soon to be renamed) prohibits recreational cannabis within the workplace. And unlike medical cannabis, there is no ‘workplace cannabis’ category exception.
Some federal departments passed their own requirements. The RCMP members cannot use cannot use cannabis within 28 days of a shift while some police use a fit for duty criteria. The Armed Forces use much more specific terms. Here members must not partake 8 hours before performing any duty. This increases up to 24 hours if they are handling explosive ordnance. I naively thought that all ordnance was explosive, but ordinary ordinance includes things like jeeps. Explosive ordnance includes things like ordnances that explode.
For the rest of the provinces one of the main criteria involves a safe work environment. Companies need to ascertain what THC levels would be appropriate for their particular type of work. However, we must add a note of caution as to watching the watchers. Legal counsel must ascertain if cannabis policies slant more towards enabling cannabis use by particularly hard working, overly stressed and easily swayed HR departments. And staff in general.
- Look for memos containing chaotic numbering systems.
If the cannabis memo from the HR department starts with a rambling introduction, and the rest of memo includes numbering systems similar to
then rest assured the duty to draft the memo should be sourced out to another department.
- Unusual Training Locales
Training seminars in tropical locations are nothing new. However, if HR insists upon going to local tropical greenhouses and conservatories, then the business planning sessions may not deal with your particular business and may deal more with hydroponics. Insist upon the rooms with no windows and open doors for informative PowerPoint presentations instead.
- The HR department becomes overly familiar with legislation
In this situation, not only does the HR department know the federal and provincial cannabis legislation better than the legal department, but HR also knows far more about regulations regarding neonics pesticides and fertilizer licensing procedures. Once again facilitating hydroponics.
- Occupational Health and Safety Compliance increases substantially
Normally, the proper use of safety glasses, white work overalls and plastic gloves should be encouraged as this increases workplace safety. However, if you see such a person wearing all this equipment in your downtown law office, and you know someone already removed all the asbestos from the ceiling, then you must investigate for a potential grow op.
- All of the Alcohol and Drug Policies have been reviewed and expanded
A review of existing policies needs to cover the proper and legal use of cannabis. If the next policy iteration includes new a process, various unknown ingredients and ends with the words “bake at 350 for 45 minutes”, then rest assured this is not a work related process. This could be a chocolate brownie cannabis delivery system process.
- Staff Benefits have been amended
Increasing staff benefits provide organizational motivation. If your organization includes a cafeteria, then be observant for subtle changes. A cafeteria express line which only handles ‘munchies’ enables cannabis use.
- International Travel
Needless to say, travel to the US with cannabis would be prohibited, as would admitting to using cannabis, investing in cannabis companies or even having a Bob Marley song on your smart phone. However, be on the lookout for new travel costs under the designation of ‘Mule reimbursement”.
- Cannabis Use within certain limits
Other organizations have a range of 8 hours, being fit for duty, or 28 days depending upon the function. If the rule then becomes more like no partaking within 28 feet of the front door, then the rules may be a bit too lenient.
- Discriminatory Use
Continued use of medical cannabis depends once again on the job function. If the cannabis impacts on the person doing the job are unknown, then the employer only has to go so far in the duty to accommodate. However, look out for any discrimination if the HR policies mandate cannabis use for those in highly stressful, unpredictable and treacherous roles such as dealing with people constantly. Like HR staff. You may have a discriminatory policy.
[i] “‘Got to Get You into My Life’ was one I wrote when I had first been introduced to pot,” Paul McCartney told Barry Miles for the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now.