CANNABIS • Questions Answered

By Carola Mittag

Posted May 23rd, 2019 in Tips & News

CANNABIS • Questions Answered Using cannabis, alcohol, prescription medications or illegal drugs can cause impairment, creating a significant safety risk in the workplace, especially in safety-sensitive jobs such as driving or operating equipment.
Q.  Can a worker be high at work?
No. Much like the use of alcohol, workers do not have the right to use recreational cannabis, or be impaired, at work.
As always, they must work safely and ensure that they do not endanger the health, safety or physical well-being of themselves or others in the workplace.

 Q.  Does using "weed" impact workplace safety?
Yes. Anyone working while impaired may put their life, and that of others, at risk.

 Q. What is a worker’s role in workplace safety?
An employee’s role is to:
  • Always work in a safe manner
  • Discuss with a supervisor anything that might impair their ability to work safely (medical or non-medical)
  • Follow workplace policy, education and training
  • Report concerns to the supervisor 
Q. With the legalization of recreational cannabis use, does an employer’s responsibility change?
No. Employers and supervisors must:
  • Protect the health, safety and welfare of employees
  • Control the consumption and possession of cannabis at work, as you currently do with alcohol
  • Enforce the workplace impairment policy
  • Accommodate employees with medical needs or disabilities (including disabilities from substance dependence)
  • Ensure human rights, privacy and labour agreements do not conflict with impairment policies
Q.  How can employers help prevent workplace injury due to impairment?
  Employers and supervisors should:
  • Develop, implement and enforce the impairment policy 
  • Communicate the impairment policy to all staff 
  • Recognize impairment 
  • Act on, or report a concern 
  • Document incidents 
  • Refer the worker to appropriate help or support 
  • Evaluate the need for accommodation
Q:  What does a good impairment policy include?
      All workplaces should have a drug and alcohol policy to address the potential for cannabis impairment in the workplace. The policy should:
  • Include mechanisms for identifying and reporting impairment (self, others) 
  • Outline arrangements for confidentiality 
  • State clearly if substance or item is allowed on the premises, and if so, under what conditions 
  • Provide training to employees, supervisors and managers 
  • List any available assistance, such as Employee Assistance Plans (EAP) or other resources 
  • If applicable, describe under what circumstances drug testing will be administered 
  •  Explain how and what disciplinary action will be taken, when necessary 
  • Describe when accommodation will be considered 
Human rights laws require that employers accommodate employees with medical needs or disabilities (including disabilities from substance dependence).

Q:  How do I recognize if someone is impaired?
       Signs that someone may be impaired at work include:
  • Personality changes or irregular behavior including interpersonal conflicts or overreacting to criticism 
  • Alcohol or drug odour on their breath or clothing 
  • Glassy or red eyes, unsteady gait, slurring, poor coordination 
  • Regular lateness, absenteeism and/or reduced productivity or quality of work
The effects of cannabis on the body can include: 
  • Dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, headache 
  • Impaired memory, attention and concentration deficits, and inability to think and make decisions 
  • Disorientation, confusion, feeling or having abnormal thoughts, feelings of oddness, feeling an extreme slow passing of time 
  • Impaired motor skills and perception

The effects and length of impairment can differ for each person, and depends on several variables, including how the cannabis entered the body, e.g. inhaled or eaten, how much was consumed and the concentration of active ingredients such as THC (the chemical which causes a high) and CBD.  

Need help with establishing the "right" policy for the use of drugs in your workplace, we can us by phone(1866.347.7707) or email

Get an evaluation of your workplace and get on track with safety and compliance.

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