The World Cannabis Congress has been told many workplaces aren’t ready for marijuana legalization. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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“Employers are having to write policies and have to prepare, but in many cases they are still using really outdated, anecdotal information,” he said Monday in Saint John, N.B.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

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

The RDC Queens picked up an extra special victory on home ice… Continue reading

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

‘Stupid’ law preventing Canada’s re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy

OTTAWA — The real reason the Liberal government hasn’t been able to… Continue reading

Voters head to polls for BC municipal elections today

VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia will head to the polls today… Continue reading

All sharks tagged in N.S. expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch website

HALIFAX — All six of the sharks tagged in Nova Scotian waters… Continue reading

Memorial service for former PQ minister Lise Payette today in Montreal

MONTREAL — Mourners will gather to remember former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister… Continue reading

Immunotherapy scores a first win against some breast cancers

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown… Continue reading

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Most Read