Few official rules ahead of legalization on use of pot at work
Published Monday, October 15, 2018 4:42PM PDT
One of the big unknowns with marijuana legalization is how recreational pot will be treated in the workplace.
The answers to questions such as whether workers can use weed on their breaks, or if they can be fired for lighting up on their own time, remain largely unanswered in some offices.
CTV News set out in search of guidelines, and found out that even two days from legalization, there were still very few hard and fast rules.
At Vancouver-based Eeko Couriers, the company's co-founder says speed, safety and focus are everything.
"We've got 20 drivers on the road right now… Hundreds upon hundreds of orders that are moving around," Josef Shechter told CTV.
He described operations as a bit of a juggling act, laughing as he said, "We look like a bunch of clowns right now in the circus."
But Shechter, who founded Eeko with his two older brothers, isn't joking when it comes to cannabis, and impairment won't be tolerated at work.
"It's a pretty thin line and it's not going to be crossed," he said.
Shechter said he still has questions including whether his employees should be permitted to have cannabis in their vehicles or on their person during deliveries.
"I can't really control what's in your backpack... As long as it's not affecting you or your work," he said after giving it some thought.
CTV gave Shechter and his business manager, Ortin, a quiz, asking what they thought should be allowed in the workplace, including questions like whether pot should be permitted at work-related social events. Both were largely on the same page with the exception of whether employees could or should be tested for THC.
CTV News also spoke to an industry watcher, who offered the following advice: "Don't panic. This is going to be an evolution, not a revolution."
Jay Rosenthal is the president of Business of Cannabis in Toronto, a company that describes itself as a platform for news, analysis and insights into the business side of Canada's cannabis sector.
He said it's better to reach for the coffee pot, not the newly legal pot, when taking a break from work.
"It's probably bad policy to do that, just like the three-martini lunch has gone away," Rosenthal said.
When it comes to drug testing at the office, he said results generally show past use, and intensity of use, and not necessarily current impairment.
But when it comes to social events and business trips, situations where employees likely would have a drink with a client, businesses will have to consider if employees can consume cannabis.
"Be responsible, be thoughtful, use common sense, just like you would now," he advised.
The bottom line: experts suggest companies do need a formal cannabis policy, and also need to clearly communicate it with employees.
While some companies, like Air Canada and WestJet have adopted a “zero tolerance” on and off duty policy for certain workers like pilots, most businesses are going to have to find a balance, Rosenthal said.
A good starting point is considering whether the jobs are considered “safety sensitive,” and a company’s current policy for drug and alcohol impairment.
Shechter says he trusts his employees to be responsible, which the Business of Cannabis’ Rosenthal echoed.
“[Most people] use common sense and good judgment and don’t come to work impaired,” he said, “and that’s unlikely to change in the future.”
With a report from CTV Vancouver's David Molko