So now, cannabis at work?

Six months after the legalization of recreational cannabis, the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés du Québec and the Conference Board of Canada have unveiled the results of surveys showing that carnage has not happened in the workplace… but certain questions remain unresolved.

The fears were high. They were largely unfounded, based on surveys of Quebec human resources advisors and employers across the country. There has not been an increase in the consumption of cannabis in the workplace nor an increase in the number of workplace accidents. Moreover, organizations consider that they were well prepared for legalization and that they have been able to avoid most abuses.

85% of respondents of the survey by the Ordre des CRHA du Québec “say they have not had more cases related to drug use to be managed since the legislation came into force”. This is reassuring. So much so that, according to the most recent data, 74% of human resources professionals are now little or unconcerned about the legalization of cannabis. Exactly as many said they were worried about it in 2017, then a few months before legalization in 2018. A complete turn-around.

Also in Quebec, 93% of human resources professionals surveyed “say they have not seen an increase in workers injured in relation to consumption of cannabis”.

Well prepared employers
“The concerns expressed before the legislation appear to have led to a greater vigilance on the part of human resources professionals. By anticipating a potential increase in problems related to consumption in the workplace, they were able to put adequate measures and mechanisms in place to deal with them,” says Manon Poirier, CHRP and Director General of the Ordre.

Across the country, according to the Conference Board of Canada, 68% of employers have implemented a new policy covering consumption of drugs and alcohol at work and have tried to encourage the safest possible behaviours. “The watchword has been to prevent the risk of misconduct as much as possible,” explains Monica Haberl, Senior Research Associate.

In Quebec, more than 87% of respondents have a policy on the possession and use of cannabis, according to the Ordre des CRHA.

Canadian employers surveyed by the Conference Board, however, say they are ill equipped in some regards in their efforts to regulate consumption, including questions about drug testing, and training and workshops that their employees could follow. Regulating consumption for reasons of workplace safety also places organizations in an ethical dilemma: how far to go without invading privacy? Questions to ponder.

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