Accommodating Medical Marijuana Use in Canadian Workplaces

MarijuanaAccording to a Global News report, on March 31, 2014 the Marihuana Medical Access Regulation (MMAR) will change.  Until then, the MMAR allows Health Canada to issue licenses to individuals to use marijuana for medical purposes.  With changes to the legislation, Health Canada will no longer issue medical marijuana licenses and physicians will essentially be able to prescribe marijuana for medical reasons rather than affirming conditions requiring medical marijuana.  While the courts have addressed medical marijuana use to an extent, it can be expected that this legislative change will likely spark more case law as medical marijuana use increases.

Given the shift from licensing to prescription, employers and employees may wonder about accommodating medical marijuana use in the workplace.  As with any other prescription medication, employees cannot be impaired on the job and duty to accommodate principles apply, namely that employers are required to accommodate to the point of undue hardship.  In the news report it is suggested that employers may request a medical examination to determine accommodation levels given the nature of the employee’s duties particularly in safety sensitive situations.

As use of medical marijuana increases, new challenges may be presented for disability managers in educating both employers and employees on medical marijuana use in the workplace.  Chief among these is applying duty to accommodate principles to medical marijuana use in the workplace and ensuring workers understand that medical marijuana use does not mean impairment on the job.  What, if any, particular disability management challenges do you see with medical marijuana use in the workplace?

Read the Global News story here.