HUMAN RESOURCES – On October 17, 2018, the Cannabis Act will become law and non-medical cannabis will become legal in Canada.

For those of us who lead organizations and/or work in Human Resources, there are a myriad of implications for the workplace. As this environment is a microcosm of our societal culture, we may well be witness to innovations, policy shifts and product development opportunities that weren’t foreseen just a year or two ago. Anyone remember not being able to check Facebook while at work?

As the legislation looms closer to actuality, many questions naturally come to mind, and these seem to multiply as you did deeper. Questions like:

Do you have a workplace policy addressing impairment in the workplace? How do you deal with employees that use marijuana for medical purposes? What is meant by “Duty to Accommodate”? What about those employees who have concerns with workplace safety? If you currently allow senior employees to expense alcohol as part of their client entertainment expenses, will you allow the same for legal use of marijuana? What about the gift giving seasons – if you have given bottles of wine or other alcohol or even chocolates infused with alcohol, will that be extended to cannabis and all of the ancillary products such as tinctures, edibles and lotions? Should / do benefit plans include coverage for cannabis prescriptions?

Seeking knowledge and working towards creating and implementing effective workplace marijuana policies in the following areas will assist in dealing with the situation:

1. Understanding what is legal. Consult with legal professionals who are conversant in employment, labour and human rights law issues arising from cannabis use, such as Fasken (;

2. Clarifying policies in the area of recreational marijuana in the workplace;

3. Integrating an employer’s duty to accommodate and what that entails;

4. Incorporation into benefit plans, including topics such as coverage, claim policies and employee assistance programs;

5. Opening up workplace communication and dialogue with employees, as it is not just the leaders of an organization that will require guidance and parameters but employees themselves will be seeking direction and a path to clarity; and,

6. Leadership training.

There are many avenues of seeking out the information required to formulate informed and equitable policies. ( Validating where the information is from is important as well as seeking out professionals to help sort through the noise and collaboratively work with you to arrive at best practice tools and processes for your unique organizational culture. 

Solid information, tools and resources are out there and the team at Chemistry Consulting is happy to get you started. Contact us today! ([email protected])

Debra Walker is an Associate HR Consultant, Business Coach and People Strategist with Chemistry Consulting.