February 4, 2020
Cannabis edibles entered the marketplace in December 2019, posing a new set of challenges for employers that have already grappled with recreational cannabis. John Aird, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) Manager of Strategic Partnerships, says this unique product line creates three specific challenges.

Aird says because the effects take longer to be felt, there is a higher risk of overconsumption. Also, people who consume cannabis edibles the night before, may still show up to work impaired because the effects can last longer. Finally, usage is harder to detect. Cannabis edibles don’t have the instantly-recognizable scent of smoked cannabis, so how do you know if someone has eaten some?

Not convinced cannabis of any kind is an issue in your workplace? Here’s some food for thought: a new national survey found that 43 per cent of employees using cannabis for medical purposes had not reported their medical use to employers. Furthermore, 27 per cent said they use cannabis medicinally, and almost 25 per cent who said they use it recreationally work in safety-sensitive positions.

Follow these five steps to prepare your workplace for the potential effects of cannabis edibles.
  1. Review and update your workplace’s drug and alcohol and fit for duty policies to include edible cannabis. Employers have the right to establish policies prohibiting the use of drugs in the workplace, and to require that employees be free from impairment while at work. This includes company events and celebrations. No one needs cannabis edibles at your next potluck.
  2. Review your updated policies with all employees. State your expectations regarding drug and alcohol use and fitness for duty, making clear to employees that impairment of any kind is unacceptable. Go over everyone’s duties under the policies. Outline steps that will be taken to ensure compliance, and the consequences of non-compliance. Also state expectations that employees will advise the employer if they are taking medications (as part of a medical treatment) that could impact their performance.
  3. Provide all employees with accurate information on cannabis so they can make informed decisions. New research conducted by the Conference Board of Canada has found that only 28 per cent of employers have general education on cannabis, even though the effects of cannabis consumption are broadly misunderstood and vary considerably from person to person.
  4. Train managers and supervisors on how to detect and document signs of impairment should testing and disciplinary action be necessary, and how to talk to employees who may be at risk of impairment or substance abuse. Cannabis impairment may take the form of disorientation, poor motor skills, slower perception, and sudden behaviour changes.
  5. Put a process in place to deal with impaired employees. For example, how should workers inform their supervisor of concerns about a potentially impaired co-worker? How will the employer remove an impaired person from the workplace? How will the employer accommodate disability-related impairment? What support is available to people with impairment issues?
For more tips, visit WSPS.ca.