Cannabis Legalization, What Does it Mean for Your Practice?

November 26, 2018by Lisa Philp

Guest Column:

Kris Grover; B.A., CHRP, CHRL

Coach; Human Resources


After years of debate and discussion, the Canadian government has officially passed the legalization of cannabis for recreational use. This change came into effect October 17, 2018. Legalization has raised new questions and challenges for dental practices and the dental industry.

It is important to understand the regulations for the new recreational cannabis legislation and how to communicate practice expectations, and practice policies to your teams.

Keep in mind that just because cannabis will be legal doesn’t mean that your current substance use policies will no longer be effective. Just as you can ban the use of alcohol during or before work hours, employers retain the right to forbid the use of non-medical cannabis prior to or during work hours.

Review how your Substance Use Policy currently addresses alcohol consumption. Many of the terms or requirements can easily transfer to recreational cannabis. In addition, it’s important for drug and alcohol policies to clearly specify what it means to be fit for duty during working hours, to define what constitutes impairment on the job as well as state the consequences if someone is found in violation of the Substance use policy.

Legalization of medical cannabis has been around since the summer of 2001 yet there is still wide spread confusion surrounding cannabis use and how it affects the workplace.

Your human rights and accommodation policies will still apply to prescription cannabis use.  Make sure your policies outline that a team member has the duty to provide medical notation in order to be able assess the need for accommodation. Medical documentation is to identify what effect the prescription cannabis use may have on their ability to carry out their job functions, not a diagnosis or other personal information.

Finally, be clear on what accommodation for prescription cannabis use looks like:

  • It does not entitle a team member to be impaired at work;
  • It does not entitle a team member to jeopardize his or her safety, or the safety of others;
  • It does not entitle a team member to smoke in or around the practice;
  • It does not entitle a team member to unexcused absences or late arrivals.

For more information on how Transitions can help in developing and updating your current policies regarding Substance Use and any other HR related matters click here for our HR Module or our HR Workshop

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Lisa Philp