Many employers not ready for legal weed, World Cannabis Congress told

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Many Canadian workplaces aren’t nearly ready for the fast-approaching legalization of marijuana, the World Cannabis Congress has been told.

Jason Fleming, vice-president of human resources for Ontario marijuana producer MedReleaf, said there’s still a lack of definitive testing, and many employers have not educated staff on new policies.

“Employers are having to write policies and have to prepare, but in many cases they are still using really outdated, anecdotal information,” he said Monday in Saint John, N.B.

“Step one is to definitely get prepared, get educated and understand the differences between these products, and recreational versus medical products, and I think that absence of information can be difficult for a lot of employers,” he said.

Urine and saliva tests can detect THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — but that doesn’t indicate active impairment, and it can take between 24 and 48 hours for THC to clear the system.

A worker can test positive if they’ve been exposed to second-hand smoke in a poorly ventilated room, according to a recent study at the University of Calgary.

There are currently no federal labour rules about drug and alcohol testing outside the military, and successive governments from the late 1980s have stayed away from the issue.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees cautions employers from using legalization as an excuse to pursue a more aggressive policy around random drug testing, which is rarely permitted and requires a high legal bar to protect workers’ human rights.

Fleming said companies that routinely throw liquor-fuelled holiday parties now have to grapple with recreational cannabis use.

“The question is, will an employer allow for that? That is where we will definitely be dealing with holiday season 2018. Employers are going to have to make a call one way or another. That is going to be pretty polarizing,” he said.

Patrick Oland, CFO of Moosehead Breweries, said at the congress that the key issue is safety. He said his company has a number of positions that require staff to sample beer on the job — but zero tolerance for anyone operating vehicles.

“Cannabis is a whole new area and ultimately comes down to policy that can evaluate for impairment and discipline for it,” said Oland — adding the simpler that testing can be, the better.

Fleming said writing a policy is half the battle. The other half is making sure it is properly administered.

“So just having something written the week before there’s recreational cannabis for sale in Canada, to me is not sufficient,” he said.

“I think you’re going to want to have had at least a month or more of time to properly communicate, to train, to sign off, and I think we’re underestimating that right now.”

The World Cannabis Congress wraps up Tuesday.

Just Posted

BILD says not the time for higher permit fees in Red Deer

Construction industry is hard hit by slow economy

Bighorn Country telephone town hall for Red Deer area set for Wednesday

Residents can phone in from 6:30-7:30 p.m. to hear about the project or ask questions

Central Alberta real estate sales follow a familiar pattern

2018 house sale numbers mirror 2017 in central Alberta

Red Deer hospital settles dispute, welcomes neonatal nurse

A dispute over nursing levels at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s emergency… Continue reading

Drumheller-Stettler MLA quits UCP

Rick Strankman to sit as Independent

Lucic, Kassian each score twice to power Oilers in 7-2 win over Sabres

EDMONTON — Milan Lucic and Zack Kassian each scored a pair of… Continue reading

Big Valley family gives back to community

Donates $24,560 to Stettler Health Foundation and Edmonton Stollery Children’s Hospital

Giordano notches three points to lead Flames in 7-1 blowout of Coyotes

CALGARY — Flames captain Mark Giordano celebrated his 800th NHL game in… Continue reading

All-female team out to prove women racers aren’t a gimmick

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Every racing series in the world is full… Continue reading

‘Game of Thrones’ final season to debut on April 14

NEW YORK — “Game of Thrones” fans, get ready. HBO announced Sunday… Continue reading

Kylie Jenner loses record for most-liked Instagram post

NEW YORK — Kylie Jenner’s birth announcement is no longer the most-liked… Continue reading

Study shows black bears need a variety of salmon species to be healthy

VANCOUVER — Black bears need access to different species of salmon rather… Continue reading

Trade war’s wounded: Companies improvise to dodge cost hikes

WASHINGTON — In Rochester, New York, a maker of furnaces for semiconductor… Continue reading

Most Read