Have your workplace cannabis rules gone up in smoke?

Have your workplace cannabis rules gone up in smoke?

have-your-workplace-cannabis-rules-gone-up-in-smokeThe recent legalization of recreational cannabis has caught the attention of the entire world. And whilst Canadians may now be free to ‘smoke-up’ – has the taboo around the drug really been shattered?

“I think it’s a little too early to tell,” explained Cora Ramirez, executive director of people and culture at Pomeroy Lodging – and speak at our upcoming HR Leaders Summit in Calgary. “At the moment, we’re hearing a lot more conversation round the topic.”

One of the main issues of contention for employers revolves around the problem of second-hand smoke. Namely, how can we protect non-smokers from potential second-hand smoke?

“Most second-hand smoke issues have been addressed by creating lots of non-smoking zones,” continued Ramirez. “I would the say the biggest impact seems to be smokers having their cigarette (or whatever it may be in the future) in areas where non-smokers have to pass through. By that I mean entrances to buildings or public parks or city-run spaces. This is changing; however, it will always be something a non-smoker will be exposed to.”

A lot of the main issues have already been blasted by creating smoke-free workplaces. For instance, employees can no longer smoke in a company vehicle. Most offices are smoke-free – it’s now time to look at the public areas and the ones that we don’t really have that much control over.

“The other issue is passive smoking. If an employee has just had a cigarette, what lingering smoke comes with them when they re-enter the building? I don’t know if we can do much more around that other than asking workers to wash their hands or spray a perfume.”

These second-hand smoking issues will only become more and more enhanced with the advent of legalized cannabis, mainly due to its distinctive odour. The more obvious and invasive smell may cause something of an argument in the workplace – so employers really should be looking at how to mediate that before it gets out of hand.

Following the legalization of marijuana, employers and employees alike have been scrambling to see what, if anything, will change int heir workplaces? There seems to be some common misconception that it’ll be permitted for workers to turn up for a shift ‘high’ – and their boss won’t be legally allowed to reprimand them.

This, of course, is simply not true. Employment lawyers are urging Canadian managers to treat marijuana as they would alcohol – and using your common sense. After all, if an employee turned up to the office stinking of whiskey and slurring their words, wouldn’t you feel obligated to step in?

That being said, there’s not really a legitimate measuring stick for gauging how much cannabis an employee has ingested. And so, technically an employee could have marijuana in their system and not be impaired – whilst a colleague could have had the same amount and be unfit to work.

“First and foremost, employers are worried about being able to know completely if a worker is impaired,” explained Ramierz. “And even if a manager suspects it – how do they approach said employee? There’ll also be that grey area between using marijuana for medical reasons and using it recreationally.”

To hear more practical insights on how to manage the wider implication of cannabis in the workplace – book your ticket to our upcoming HR Leaders Summit in Calgary. Find out more here.
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