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Employment law governs medical marijuana use in the workplace

Although medicinal use of marijuana in British Columbia has been legal for some time, legalization of recreational use of this drug is on the horizon. Employment law will likely undergo some adjustments when the non-medicinal use of cannabis becomes legal. Employers who want to avoid unwanted accusations of violations will have to become familiar with the new laws.

Currently, employees who use medical marijuana are entitled to the same accommodation that is offered to employees who use other types of prescription medication to control the pain caused by their disabilities. There is even some level of accommodation required for workers who have developed addictions to marijuana. However, some limits exist in this regard.

Authorities say the fact that employees may use medical marijuana at work does not entitle them to be impaired while they are on duty, nor may such a worker compromise the safety of co-workers or put him or herself in harm's way. Furthermore, laws related to smoke-free areas apply to all types of smoking. Although other prescription medications can be taken anywhere in the workplace, marijuana smoking is treated differently and limited to designated smoking areas.

Under current laws, employers may establish rules that prohibit alcohol use at the workplace or reporting for duty while impaired. Similar rules may be set up for recreational marijuana users. However, loopholes often exist when new legislation becomes effective, and the same may happen when recreational marijuana use becomes legal. Employers in British Columbia can be proactive and consult with an experienced employment law lawyer to familiarize themselves with the applicable legislation before issues arise.

Source: go2hr.ca, "Marijuana At Work: Six Things Employers Should Know", Accessed on April 20, 2018

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