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Cannabis legalized in Canada: Now what?

Published by: LifeWorks,

On Wednesday, October 17, 2018, recreational use of marijuana became legal in Canada. The Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) provides legal access to cannabis and a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis across Canada.

The act aims to:

– keep cannabis out of the hands of youth
– keep profits out of the hands of criminals
– and protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to legal cannabis.

What is legal as of October 17, 2018?

Based on provincial or territorial restrictions, adults who are 18 years of age or older are able to legally:

– possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in
public
– share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults
– buy dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially-licensed retailer
grow, from licensed seed or seedlings, up to 4 cannabis plants per residence for
personal use
– make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home as long as organic
solvents are not used to create concentrated products

Substance abuse in the workplace

A substance abuse problem may involve the overuse of alcohol, prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, or any combination of those items. When working with a substance-abusing employee on a daily basis, you are likely to see behaviour that interferes with the employee’s productivity and may, in some cases, even undermine the safety of your work team.

While it may be tempting to look the other way, managers are responsible for dealing with this serious and complex workplace challenge. It’s important to know how to involve the appropriate company authorities as well as how to respond when you suspect a substance abuse problem.

Know your company policies and your responsibilities as a manager. Handling substance abuse issues is one of the most difficult situations a manager can face. Your company has policies and procedures to protect you, the company, your employee, and your team. Read these policies carefully and attend all related training programmes so you know what to do if you need to address such a situation.

Talk to your human resources (HR) representative or your employee assistance programme (EAP) immediately about your concerns. If the situation is acute and you observe an employee who is visibly impaired and is in a safety-sensitive position, such as driving or operating machinery, you may need to immediately relieve the employee of duty and ask him or her to wait in an office with a supervisor until you get further instruction for action. In less critical situations, you may be able to talk over a variety of actions and discuss your options with a knowledgeable professional.

When you are concerned about substance abuse, focus on the employee’s job performance, not the employee’s appearance. For example, people who may appear to exhibit signs of alcohol abuse—slurred speech or trembling hands—may have a medical condition instead.

To address workplace performance, focus on behaviour. Address the workplace behaviour by stating your observations. You might say, “Jake, you were out of the office for almost an hour today and it was not a scheduled break or lunch period. This also happened last Friday. Please tell me what is going on.” Get the employee’s explanation first, to make sure that something like a serious family issue is not the problem.

Remember that resources are available to your employee. In any situation where the employee expresses personal distress and tells you that he or she is struggling, refer the employee to the EAP. If you feel that there may be a substance abuse problem, always talk with a company HR manager, your manager, or the EAP before suggesting an employee contact the EAP. It can be a very helpful benefit for the employer and the employee when a substance abuse issue is addressed.

Don’t get involved in the employee’s personal problems.

Don’t diagnose or assess. Do not assume the employee has a drug or an alcohol problem. A diagnosis can only be made by a mental health or substance abuse professional.

Don’t offer advice about what the employee should and should not do.

Don’t avoid the problem and hope it will go away. The sooner you seek a consultation, the better it will be for you, your employee, and the company.

Please visit Cannabis in Canada for more information on cannabis

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