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Eight ways to prepare your organization for the legalization of marijuana

From a Globe and Mail article: On Oct. 17, will your organization be ready to manage cannabis in your workplace? 

This date is significant because it’s the day when recreational cannabis will be legalized by the Cannabis Act. Canada will become the first G7 country to fully legalize recreational cannabis, making it the only drug approved for both medical and recreational uses.

It was the question of whether organizations are ready for the legalization of cannabis that inspired the Conference Board of Canada to run two conferences in Toronto to help leaders prepare for the new context, and to complete a piece of research called Blazing the Trail – What the Legalization of Cannabis Means for Canadian Employers.

To frame the conversation, it’s important to recognize that the issue of recreational cannabis in the workplace is not new. While to date it has only been legal for medical use, employers have been dealing with the implications of cannabis, alcohol, cocaine, opioid and amphetamine use for years.

Medical authorization for cannabis use has been increasing at a rapid rate over the past 12 months and recreational use is also expected to increase as cannabis becomes more available and socially accepted.

In 2015, Health Canada found that 12 per cent of the Canadian population over 15 years of age had used cannabis in the past year. Based on data from the first quarter of 2018, the National Cannabis Survey showed that 14 per cent of Canadians in the same age group had used some form of cannabis (for medical or recreational purposes), with 7.8 per cent or 2.4 million using it daily or weekly. This means that on any given workday, a potentially significant number of employees are considering or using cannabis before, during or after work.

With the legalization of cannabis, employers may need to address some of the impacts on the workplace, including: workplace safety concerns; alcohol and drug policies and testing practices; problematic drug use or dependence; defining cannabis impairment; potential costs to the organization; implementing prevention strategies; accommodating medical cannabis use; and consumption during work-related events.

Read more: Eight ways to prepare your organization for the legalization of marijuana

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