Employers can create policies for drug-free workplaces

Tuesday, December 24, 2019 - 13:15

One human resources expert believes companies can be guided by other policies on substance use in the workplace, in order to deal with the new changes to marijuana use law in this country.

But Stacy Homer tells us there are certain challenging areas, with which even the international experts are still grappling.

The human resources expert says there is nothing in the law which prevents an employer from creating and implementing a policy to ensure a drug free environment, just as they’ve been able to do, to ensure a smoke free and alcohol free workplace.

“A lot of companies may have designated smoking areas, and those smoking areas may be in car parks etc., which are public places,” Stacy Homer explains. “In that public setting, it is illegal to use marijuana. Therefore, you can't use it in the office, nor can you use it in public settings. So, the law gives us that guideline for it."

According to the HR expert, a company cannot simply terminate an employee if they fail a mandatory drug test, which is critical for persons working in high safety and security environments. She notes this is an area still being worked out internationally.

“There is something called the THC, which is the psychoactive component of it. As of today,” she says, “there is no set measurement as to how much THC means the person is impaired to do their job.”

And Stacy Homer notes another tricky issue still be posing a challenge in terms of best practice involves medical marijuana use.

“What happens if an employee were to produce a medical document stating that they need to take this particular medication—which is made from marijuana—at 12 o'clock every day, when they would be on the job?” 

The HR expert also points to another tough situation for employers—where an employee may face criminal charges for possessing more than the allotted amount of marijuana. She explains:

“From an industrial relations point of view, we cannot automatically fire an employee because they're facing criminal charges. We have to go through another process. Whether we look at job abandonment or absenteeism from the job, it's a totally different process from saying, 'Well, this is a criminal charge' and that’s it.”

Stacy Homer says, overall, companies will have to be careful in how they manage the new rights afforded to their employees under the revised marijuana use laws.




Image courtesy THE GREEN FUND