Pubdate: Fri, 07 Jul 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Lisa Wright
Page: B1


Many in HR feel companies not ready for legalization next year

Looking forward to pot being legal? Your employer likely isn't,
especially if you drive for work or operate heavy machinery.

With less than a year until recreational marijuana is slated to become
legal in Canada, a new study by the Human Resources Professional
Association (HRPA) reveals that many employers feel unprepared for the
impact that increased drug use may have on the workplace.

Nearly half (or 45.9 per cent) of Human Resources professionals do not
believe that their current workplace policies adequately address the
potential new issues that may arise with the legalization and expected
increased use of marijuana.

In fact, only 11 per cent of respondents said their companies have a
policy in place to address medical marijuana.

"Employers are concerned, and both governments and employers have a
role to play to ensure workplaces are properly prepared for the
legalization of marijuana on July 1, 2018," said Bill Greenhalgh,
HRPA's chief executive.

In the report Clearing the Haze: The Impacts of Marijuana on the 
Workplace, the top concerns cited by company professionals include 
employees operating motor vehicles and heavy machinery, decreased work 
performance and attendance.

The study makes 10 recommendations to governments and employers in an
effort to prepare them for the increased use of marijuana, and the
effects that legalization will inevitably have at work.

They include asking Ottawa to maintain two regulatory streams for
medical and recreational cannabis, that employers should explore the
benefits of medical marijuana coverage and ensure employers are
prepared to answer questions about coverage of medical marijuana in
their extended health care plans.

"Governments must ensure that issues such as the legal definition of
impairment - and how to accurately test those levels - are resolved
before the legalization date," Greenhalgh said.

"On the other hand, employers must continually update and communicate
their current drug policies to employees so expectations are clear,"
he noted.

A zero tolerance cannabis policy is problematic in the workplace
because it "could cause discrimination against employees who use
cannabis to treat or relieve the symptoms of a disability," the report
states. "We have heard from human resources professionals that strict
policies and government guidelines will be critically important to
safety-sensitive workplaces," Greenhalgh added.

Unlike alcohol, there is no current consensus on safe limits for
consuming cannabis, the study notes. "The effects of cannabis on
individuals vary widely depending on the THC content (the active
ingredient in marijuana), frequency of use and other factors such as
combined use with alcohol or other drugs."

"While a year may sound like a lot to prepare for the legalization of
marijuana, we are urging employers to act now. In terms of
legalization on a broad scale, Canada is in uncharted territory,"
Greenhalgh said.

"The sooner employers can communicate clear policies to employees, the
better," he added.
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MAP posted-by: Matt