Marijuana in the Workplace: Facts & Myths

Medical marijuana use is at an all-time high, and legalization for recreational use is just around the corner. This brings up a number of questions for both employers and employees alike. Read on to learn some facts and myths about medical marijuana at work. For a more in-depth look at the effect on cannabis legalization, consider our online course on medicinal marijuana in the workplace.

Can I get fired for having a medical marijuana card?

To put it simply, you cannot be fired for possessing a prescription for medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is a legal and legitimate prescription within Canada.

If I have a medical marijuana card, can I take my prescription before and/or at work?

This is a huge grey area. Employers have a duty to accommodate, meaning that they must take reasonable steps to meet your needs as an employee based on your needs. This means that they must accommodate employees with a medicinal marijuana prescription in the same way they would any other disabled employee with a medicinal prescription.

However, there are a few things that a prescription does not allow:

  • You may not be impaired at work
  • You cannot compromise safety of yourself and others in the workplace
  • You are not entitled to smoke at your workplace

Speak to your employer, talk to them about your condition, your medicinal needs, and the job requirements. Know your rights, but also know your responsibilities to the company and to your fellow employees.

Can my employer do random drug testing?

Random drug tests laws in Canada have been controversial and continue to be as the discussion around marijuana use grows. While many unions and workers themselves believe that it infringes on an employee’s privacy, many companies will argue that random drug testing helps keep a safe worksite. Unfortunately there is not clear cut answer to this question. Know this: if you work in a safety-sensitive industry, your employer will most likely test employees after an incident or near-miss on the jobsite.

Drug testing and drug use policies vary between different companies and industries. It’s important to inform your employer if you are using medical marijuana, just as you would with any other prescription or condition that could potentially affect your work. As mentioned above, there is a duty to accommodate but that requires both parties to be up front and honest.

Medical marijuana is still a relatively new area with rules, regulations, and policies needing time to catch up. To learn more about marijuana in the workplace or other safety-related topics, view our courses or seek out a specialty consultant in the field!