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Free Report

Blazing the Trail.

What the Legalization of Cannabis Means for Canadian Employers

Download this FREE report and explore some of the major areas of concern for employers related to the impacts of legalization on the workplace.

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Cannabis in the Workplace

Our Workplace Health and Wellness team has been doing research into what the legalization of cannabis means for Canadian employers. Below are some of the key considerations that surfaced from the research.


What you Need to Know

Updating Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policies

Now that legalization of cannabis is here, it's time to ensure that you have appropriate A&D testing, workplace safety policies, and support for your employees.

A&D Testing

Employers will want to ensure they have appropriate A&D testing practices in place. This will ensure that the policy can be enforced consistently, and will deter unwanted use while still accommodating employees’ privacy needs.

Workplace Safety

Employers with safety-sensitive operations may want to consider a “no free accident” rule in their A&D policies. They will also need to consider whether a bona fide occupational requirement (BFOR) can be demonstrated to prohibit medical use in the workplace.

Employee Support

Employers should consider those who may be suffering from problematic cannabis use and addiction, and provide resources and supports for employees to address these issues.

Socializing Change

Employers will want to communicate any changes to A&D policies to their employees and ensure resources are available and accessible in a confidential manner.

Managing Problematic Cannabis Use and Dependence in the Workplace

Are you prepared in the event of a cannabis dependence? Make sure you have treatment options ready, and provide managers with the tools to handle new situations.


Review and potentially increase resources and treatment options available to employees with cannabis dependence.


Ensure employees are aware of these resources, and examine whether the organizational culture is one that provides a safe environment for employees to self-report problems to their managers.


Provide tools and training to managers so they are equipped to have productive discussions with employees who may come to them to self report problematic use or dependence.


Ensure processes are in place to help employees suffering from cannabis dependence to access treatment and reintegrate into the workforce as soon as they are able, and with appropriate accommodations.

Education and Prevention

Plan for the discussion! Understand the recreational use of cannabis outside the workplace and have learning materials ready to educate on the effects of marijuana.

Learning Materials

As one of the most cost-effective approaches to managing cannabis in the workplace, organizations may want to consider working with E(F)AP or other providers to offer materials that will inform individual workers and their families about the effects of cannabis.

Avoid Scare Tactics

It is important to avoid scare tactics and to supply materials that are fact-based, and provide information about a variety of topics related to cannabis use.

How Will You Talk About it?

Employers may want to identify whether and how their organization will address any stigma that may crop up in the workplace related to responsible use of recreational cannabis.


Make sure your employees understand the boundaries, and consult with your legal partners to better understand the impact of impairment on the job.


Consider the operational needs of your workforce based on industry and position type. Determine how stringent your organization should be regarding A&D testing and potential discipline for impairment on the job.

Respect the Law and Human Rights

If implementing a new A&D program or adapting a previous program to meet needs for cannabis legalization, consult with legal partners to ensure you are respecting the privacy and human rights of employees. Meanwhile, ensure your workers and customers remain safe.

Set Expectations

Ensure employees understand that, even though cannabis will no longer be illegal, they should not come to work under the influence of the drug and are expected to work unimpaired.


Consider providing training to managers to recognize impairment and, if necessary, how to broach the subject.


Get the Big Picture

Grab a copy of our infographic. Share it digitally, or print, post and socialize it in the workplace!

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Thinking about the impact of cannabis on your workplace?
Participate in our survey to learn more!

The Conference Board of Canada is conducting its first ever Cannabis in the Workplace Survey, a national survey of employers that examines the impact of cannabis use on Canadian organizations. The survey looks at recreational cannabis use, cannabis use authorized for medical purposes, alcohol and drug testing, and more. The results of this survey will help guide Canadian employers in effectively managing the impacts of cannabis on the workplace.
Want to participate? Please contact us at

Survey deadline: December 21, 2018

Get the Report

Blazing the Trail.

What the Legalization of Cannabis Means for Canadian Employers

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Learning Sessions with Trusted Experts

Bonny Mak, an employment and labour lawyer with Fasken Martineau, a leading international business law and litigation firm, presents this 60-minute recorded webinar in which she discusses the evolving legal context associated with marijuana, as well as shares some key considerations for leaders and the board in updating policies and drug and alcohol programs to protect both organizations and workers under the coming changes. She also shares key legal considerations leaders should be aware of in relation to the use of marijuana and the permissible use of drug and alcohol testing in Canada.

Barbara Butler, President of Barbara Butler and Associates Inc., shares some practical solutions for Canadian employers. Since 1989, Barbara has helped workplaces across Canada deal with alcohol and drug issues and has also helped employers develop alcohol and drug policies. Barbara has been directly involved as a witness in many key human rights cases on this issue and speaks regularly to national and international audiences. She discusses how organizations can face the challenge of marijuana in the workplace by outlining specific steps to consider in implementing and updating your alcohol and drug policy.

Join Stuart Rudner, a leading Employment Lawyer and a Partner at Rudner MacDonald LLP, as he discusses some of the challenges associated with accommodating medical marijuana in the workplace. Stuart will address the distinct issues employers may encounter, including the duty to accommodate, the relevance of safety concerns and other bona fide occupational requirements, the use of policies, and how to address potential abuse. The prescribed use of medical marijuana will only increase over the next few years, so join us for this session to ensure your organization is prepared, and ready to accommodate.

Canada is set to become the first G7 country to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The new federal government pledged in its 2015 election campaign to legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana. Since assuming office, the government has indicated that it will announce a federal-provincial-territorial task force to consult experts and others on a framework to remove marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal Code.

However, marijuana legalization brings a number of economic, regulatory, social and health challenges. Canada can learn from locations such as Colorado that have already moved ahead with legalization.

To learn more, join us for this webinar with Sam Kamin, who has emerged as one of America's expert voices on marijuana law reform in Colorado and throughout the country.

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Blazing the Trail.

What the Legalization of Cannabis Means for Canadian Employers

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