In Brief: What Employers Need to Know about Legal Cannabis

Published On: January 25th, 2019Categories: Commercial Insurance

What does legalized cannabis mean for Ontario employers? We asked Carole McAfee, partner with Toronto law firm Fernandes Hearn LLP, to share insight on employee practices risk management concerns employers should be considering.

Carole also joined back in June, before Canada legalized cannabis, to review current legislation, probable outcomes and provide best practices for employers in Ontario. You can view the Cannabis in the Workplace webinar here.

~ Transcript ~

My name is Carole McAfee Wallace and I am a Transportation Lawyer in Toronto.

Now that cannabis has been legalized my clients are contacting me to ask:

What are employee rights in the workplace and what employers dutie and obligations are?

First and foremost, if you don’t already have a fit-for-duty policy or you haven’t reviewed and updated your fit-for-duty policy, you should do that to ensure that everyone understands that, not withstanding it is now legal, recreational cannabis is not permitted in the workplace. Employees must come to work fit-to-perform free from impairment. So, that is the first thing.

The other thing that employers need to be mindful of is the human rights implications that we are reminded of now that cannabis is legalized. That is if an employee has a substance abuse issue or an addiction that it is a disability that is protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code, or the Canadian Human Rights Act if you are federally regulated. An employer must accommodate to the point of undo hardship.

Second, medical marijuana has been legal for a number of years In Canada. This also leads to employers duty to accommodate the employee to the point of undo hardship.

Bottom line, there is no duty to accommodate the use of recreational cannabis in the workplace.

Thank you.

Additional questions? Email Carole McAfee here.

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Written by:

Kyle Paterson
Kyle believes that insurance is a tool, when powerfully leveraged best ensures the vision of business leaders and families are realized. Kyle focuses on cyber risk transfer, group benefits, and corporate and individual life insurance solutions.


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