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Oct 23, 2018

Cannabis Legalization in Canada is Here

Answers to Your Most-Asked Cannabis in the Workplace Questions

By Michael F. Horvat

Q.        Does a company have to pay for an employee to attend a treatment program for addiction?

A.        No, a company is not required, as part of the accommodation process, to pay for an employee’s attendance at an addiction treatment program or to compensate that employee in any other manner for lost time. However, the employee may be entitled to certain insured benefits during his/her absence and attendance at treatment, since that individual remains and employee during the period of leave (subject to any restrictions already contained in your policies). The key obligation of the company is to allow the employee’s absence and facilitate his/her return to work upon successful completion of the program, without negative impact to his/her employment upon their return to work.

Q.        Can a company prohibit consumption of marijuana on or at their premises?

A.        First, since the webinar, the Ontario provincial government has expanded the permitted public spaces in which recreational cannabis can be consumed. However, this does not preclude a company from prohibiting the possession and/or consumption of marijuana on their property (and in Ontario, workplaces continue to be areas where open consumption of marijuana will be prohibited). Possession of medicinal marijuana could be an accommodation exception, but authorized use of medical marijuana at the workplace, particularly during the workday, will be subject to review and potential prohibition as undue hardship.

Q.        Can a company require disclosure by an employee of their use of marijuana?

A.        Where an employee has authorization to possess and consume medical marijuana, and it is reasonable to conclude that such use may impact the employee’s safe and productive performance of their duties, then such authorization should be disclosed (as with any other prescription drug use which may impact the safe and productive performance) and an accommodation review should be completed. If an employee is or suspects that he/she is suffering from addiction, such addiction concern, belief or diagnosis should be disclosed and the company should accommodate the treatment, recovery and return to work of that employee. There is likely no requirement for an employee to disclose his/her recreational use of a legal drug (such as marijuana or alcohol) on personal time, away from the workplace, provided such use does not affect his/her ability to attend at and perform their work safely and productively.

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