Part 3: How will cannabis legalization affect your business?

Since cannabis consumption and growth are legal in Canada, several areas potentially expose your business to risk. With this comes changes to HR policies and employer/employee responsibilities. In this article, we will cover a few of the items employers should be aware of and things they should do when setting up a workplace cannabis policy.

What has changed?

The responsibility of employers and employees has not changed under the Cannabis Act. Even with legal recreational cannabis use, employers retain the right to regulate the consumption, possession, and tracking of cannabis at work.


Can prohibit employees from working while under the influence of cannabis but cannot perform random drug tests, screenings, and searches in the workplace, except for post-incident drug testing.


Employees must continue to perform their work with care and ensure they do not endanger their health, safety or physical well-being.

When setting up a workplace cannabis policy:

  • Update drug/alcohol policies to outline appropriate uses of cannabis.
  • Update smoke and scent policies to include cannabis-related complaints.
  • Redefine impairment, expected behaviour at work and proper protocols, including incident reports, progressive discipline, and corrective action employees can face if a policy is violated.
  • Ensure standards are enforced on the state employees must come to work. (i.e. sober and ready to work)
  • Articulate the differences between recreational and medical cannabis.
  • Define the duty and responsibility to accommodate employees using medical cannabis.
  • Clarify policy on recreational cannabis.
  • Include a policy for using cannabis while at work.
  • Inform how to identify and respond to someone who is impaired.
  • Ensure zero-tolerance policies have been updated to include cannabis for operators of vehicles and heavy machinery.
  • Provide information for employee assistance with contact information if available.
  • Educate employees on policy changes and encourage open communication.
  • Advise legal counsel when creating or amending any policies.

To help you get a handle on these changes, provided below are websites to help you stay informed, now and going forward. Learn more about updating your HR policies, employment practices and standards with these resources.

Address Workplace Hazards:

The Ontario Government’s leading website on Cannabis Legalization. Learn about the updates to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Federal Ministry of Labour’s page on Impairment and Workplace Health and Safety. Learn about zero-tolerance rules.

HR Policy:

Review sample HR Policies that impact Occupational Health and Safety.

Report on the projected impact on the workplace and areas of concern for employers to address in their HR policies.

Health Needs

Medical Cannabis Fast Fact report from the Ontario Public Services, Health and Safety Association to better understand medical marijuana in the workplace.

Discipline: Impairment Issues

A fact sheet from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety on impairment at work and means to address it.

Contact Petley-Hare today!

You must speak to an expert insurance broker for competitive market rates, comprehensive coverage, and customized solutions for all your risk protection requirements. At Petley-Hare, our brokers work with you to create tailor-made solutions to ensure you have the right coverage for maximum protection.

For more information on the risks associated with cannabis, recreational limits, home/condo use and more, contact us at 1-800-216-5324 or [email protected]. For a free, no-obligation quote, click here.