Employers still face challenges with cannabis legalization


Almost exactly one year ago, Canada legalized cannabis. Countries around the world looked to Canada to see how we handled the transition. For the most part, there have been few issues. But that doesn’t mean that it has been perfect.

Employers still face challenges related to cannabis in the workplace, reports the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). A survey was conducted by CFIB to determine how small and medium-sized businesses were adapting to the legalization of cannabis. Only eight per cent surveyed had experienced a cannabis-related incident in the workplace, but that number rises to 22 per cent for businesses with 100 to 499 employees, according to the preliminary data.

Nearly six in 10 business owners rank their provincial government’s efforts to educate them as poor or very poor. “Cannabis legalization posed some major new challenges for employers, especially in industries where the safety of employees or customers is a concern,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “We warned governments in the lead-up to legalization that their education efforts were severely lacking. A year in, and as new products become available, it doesn’t look like it’s gotten much better.”

In the construction industry, only 10 per cent of companies reported issues related to cannabis in the workplace, while an additional six per cent either didn’t know or were unsure. The manufacturing industry saw similar statistics. Seven per cent responded that cannabis caused challenges in the workplace, and an additional seven per cent responded that they didn’t know or were unsure.

“Many small businesses don’t have a human resources department or legal experts on staff, so they need help and resources. Too often, their needs are treated as an afterthought when governments rush to introduce major new legislation,” added Kelly.

“I advise any business owners that are looking for information to visit cfib.ca/cannabis for tools and resources, including a free workplace drug and alcohol policy template.”


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