How to Manage Therapeutic Cannabis

With the legalization of cannabis, there is a good bet that many doctors will be more inclined to prescribe a little medicinal pot to their patients. How should the company handle this new reality?

Cannabis is particularly recognized as an effective treatment against spasms, nausea, pain, anxiety and stress. It has been tested on about twenty pathologies, but studies are still under way. This is what the recent legislation will allow, among other things.

This legislation has also prompted many companies to develop a policy to manage cannabis at work. Several of them have quickly adopted a “zero tolerance” policy.

However, as Dr. Charles Coulombe, a physician and occupational medicine expert, points out: “A company cannot claim zero tolerance because prescription of cannabis is considered to be a medical treatment and no illness is allowed to be a source of discrimination at work.”

The recent legalization of cannabis therefore requires “making the parallel between a common treatment and treatment with cannabis,” the doctor says.

From a medical point of view, for treatment with cannabis, as with any other long-term treatment, it takes about three weeks to be able to observe the positive effects and side effects. Only after this period can a manager, concerned about his employee’s working abilities, envisage a meeting with him to take note of the effects of his treatment.

Dr. Coulombe offers three pieces of advice to help companies manage this new reality.

  • The employer can adopt some accommodation measures such as lowering the employee’s performance requirements for a period of time, or having his decisions approved before they are executed.
  • A call between the employee’s doctor and the company doctor can be envisaged in order to find a satisfactory compromise both for the employee (and his health) and for the company (which wants a good-performing employee).
  • Treatment with cannabis is more effective when it is inhaled, but a company which is afraid for its image may ask the employee to exercise discretion when taking the treatment.
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