With the legalization of recreational cannabis as of October 17, 2018, Canadian employers must be prepared to understand their rights and responsibilities vis-à-vis their employees.
Employers are encouraged to adopt or amend their substance and drug use policies to conform to cannabis legalization.
First, employers’ drug policies should clearly stipulate that they apply to cannabis use, notwithstanding its legalization.
Second, regardless of the particular rules employers wish to adopt, it is advisable to institute policies that are clear with regard to the behaviours that are forbidden and the consequences of violating the policies. These policies should also be applied in a consistent and uniform manner to every employee (subject, of course, to any duty to accommodate, as discussed below).
The implementation of cannabis use policies should be accompanied by training on the various issues surrounding cannabis and the workplace, particularly for managers who will have to apply these policies.
It should be noted that the other provinces and territories of Canada can adopt their own rules regarding the use of cannabis in the workplace, and they may differ from the rules adopted in Québec and Ontario.