Canadian employers are already coping with about 75,000 Canadians authorized to use medical marijuana. Health Canada anticipates this number increasing to roughly 450,000 through 2024.
Employers are cognizant of the fact that medical marijuana is a psychoactive drug prescribed to address medical conditions and so, due to the fact that many of those medical conditions constitute a disability (which employers are bound to accommodate to the point of undue hardship) medical marijuana generally necessitates an assessment and accommodative employer approach.
The subsequent ‘Everest’ facing Canadian employers will be the much-anticipated fruition of the federal government’s promise to introduce legislation in the spring of 2017 to legalize marijuana.
The Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation, led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan has circulated a discussion paper entitled “Towards the Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana”.
During the recent US election, California opted for the legalizing of marijuana. This gives America the dubious distinction of allowing 1 in 5 of its citizens to legally use marijuana.
Employers should fully understand the consequences of the legalization of marijuana. Detecting marijuana usage and impairment is markedly more complex than detecting alcohol use or drunkenness.
Canadian employers will want to learn more about this topic and engage with legal counsel.
Currently, Canadian patients can only legally get their medical marijuana via post. There are now over 75,000 Canadian patients participating in Canada’s medical marijuana program. If Health Canada approves the application for Shoppers Drug Mart, it could become Canada’s first coast-to-coast medical marijuana dispensary chain. Canada’s Liberal party has plans to introduce the groundwork for cannabis legalization by the spring of 2017 (Source: merryjane.com).
You may also be interested in reading an interesting article I posted earlier this year on Employees requesting reimbursement for their medical marijuana (…medical marijuana may be eligible for reimbursement in cases involving broader language in a Collective Agreement or Group Health Plan..) here.