HR impact of the Cannabis Act

Bill C-45, The Cannabis Act (The Act), received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018, and the use of cannabis for recreational purposes became legal across Canada on October 17, 2018. The Act’s impact on the workplace has been a concern for employers and HR professionals.

Recognizing these concerns, and seeing the potential for collaboration, the Community Sector Council of Nova Scotia and the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce partnered to co-host the December 11, 2018 Cannabis Conversation in Port Hawkesbury. Over thirty participants heard a panel of experts deliver short presentations on the HR impact of the Cannabis Act, and answer audience questions.

Panelists included:

  • Sarah Boudreau, Pharmacist, MacKeigan’s Pharmacy
  • Bryna Hatt, Fraser Hatt Law
  • John MacKinnon, OHS Division at NS Labour & Advanced Education
  • Dave DiPersio, Senior VP and Chief Services Officer, NSLC

The panel noted the significance surrounding impairment in the workplace and the outcomes associated with impairment in the workplace. Speakers emphasized that many of these issues are addressed by existing legislation, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act [PDF] and the Smoke-free Places Act [PDF]. It was also noted that, for some time, there have been workers that have authorized cannabis by a physician and workplace accommodation has not been overly burdensome. 

The panel strongly recommended that HR policies be reviewed carefully and revised accordingly. For example, cannabis and cannabis products are now no longer included in policies that refer to illicit drugs  Edibles are coming online no later than October 17, 2019, and these are beyond the scope of smoke free workplace regulations.

For more information on the December 11, 2018 Cannabis Conversation please read Drake Lowthers’s article for The Reporter.

McInnes Cooper has published a blogpost that may be helpful to organizations looking to update HR policies.

The Department of Labour and Advanced Education’s website has a helpful page that covers certain workplace issues related to cannabis impairment.

Finally, readers are invited to contact their Community Sector Council regional hub convenor re past or upcoming presentations on cannabis in the workplace and/or other topics.