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Cannabis at Work: Introduction To Its Use

“Cannabis” is a genus that contains three psychoactive plants: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and their ditchweed cousin Cannabis ruderalis. According to Health Canada spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau, Cannabis is the preferred term over marijuana because “the term cannabis includes more products than marijuana,” which Health Canada defines as “the dried flowers, leaves, stems and seeds of the cannabis plant.”  Is it safe to use cannabis at work?

The cannabis plant or its chemicals is used to treat diseases or conditions. The cannabis plant contains more than 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids, and each one has a different effect on the body. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the main chemicals used in medicine. 

Health Benefits of Cannabis Use

Cannabis can be found in various forms with its health benefits are ever-growing. Below are some of the essential value of Cannabis:

  • It relieves chronic pains because of the chemical make-up of cannabinoids found in cannabis. 
  • Smoking cannabis was found out to increase lung capacity, unlike smoking cigarettes.
  • Cannabis aids your body in regulating insulin while managing caloric intake efficiently. It primarily helps in losing weight. Its impact on insulin helps stabilize blood sugar levels,  lowers blood pressure, and improves blood circulation.
  • One of the great benefits of cannabis is that it helps fight certain types of cancer.
  • It helps stabilize moods and eases depression. It alleviates anxiety and calms the users.
  • Helps children with autism who experience frequent violent mood swings control it by calming the user and controlling their mood. 
  • Helps control seizures on individuals with epilepsy
  • It helps quicken the process of healing broken bones and strengthening it.
  • It has shown potential in promoting focus, concentration, and in helping individuals with ADHD/ADD, and is found to be a safer alternative to Adderall and Ritalin.
  • It helps reduce the pressure applied on the eyeball providing some temporary relief to individuals with glaucoma.
  • The chemical compounds found in cannabis known as endocannabinoids helps fight brain inflammation that leads to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The chemicals tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) found in creams and balms can help people who have arthritis.
  • It helps treat individuals with PTSD and controls the fight or flight response, preventing it from overdrive. 
  • It provides relief by helping reduce the pain of those who are suffering from multiple sclerosis.
  • It reduces side effects linked to hepatitis C and helps in treating it. 
  • THC and cannabidiol helps enhance the immune response by blocking off the bacteria and other compounds that cause inflammation in the intestines.
  • It helps in reducing the tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease, which also improves the motor skills of the patients.
  • It can be a smarter way to treat alcoholism by substituting it with cannabis.

Concerns Over Cannabis At Work 

THC in marijuana affects awareness, reaction time, coordination, and other motor skills that sometimes create sensory distortion. Taking cannabis at work can be deadly, especially when you are operating machinery, driving a forklift, or delivering products in a vehicle.  

According to a study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, employees who tested positive for marijuana had 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries, and 75% greater absenteeism than those who tested negative. 

Here are some negative implications of taking cannabis at work:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Increased worker compensation and unemployment compensation claims
  • High turnover
  • Lawsuits

Policy on Cannabis Use At The Workplace 

When taking cannabis at work, everyone must know that they have a part to play in their workplace’s health and safety. Employers and employees alike should be ready to stop or minimize the risk of taking cannabis as impairment at work. They should note the following employer and employee responsibilities in federally controlled workplaces. For businesses or industries regulated by the province or territory, please refer to provincial and territorial governments.

The Canadian government has legalized marijuana for non-medical use. The quick and severe changes to the legal status of marijuana raised new questions and challenges for Canadian employers. Here, we provide a general overview of the essential things employers should realize about marijuana in the workplace:

Employers’ Responsibilities

  • Guarantee the health and safety of all employees at the workplace
  • Direct physical and psychological dangers in their workplace, including when impaired.
  • Collaborate with employee representatives to craft, execute and evaluate a hazard prevention program to track and prevent hazards
  • Incorporate policies on substance use and impairment in hazard prevention programs in the use of cannabis, and other causes of impairment constitute a hazard.

Employees’ Duties

  • Work safely
  • Recognize the impact in using substances (whether medical/therapeutic or non-medical) have effects on their safety and those around them
  • Must report to their employer anything or conditions that are likely to be dangerous to the employees or any other person in the workplace 
  • Inform their employer if a medical condition or treatment may cause disability and affect their ability to do their job safely
  • Comply in all instructions given by the employer concerning the health and safety of employees

Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, employers must assist in undue hardship for an employee who is recognized to have a disease, injury, or disability, including substance dependence and medical-related purposes, to use cannabis at work.

You may read the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s guide Impaired at Work – A guide to accommodating substance dependence on how to serve them.


The changes to the legal status of marijuana have created distinct and extraordinary challenges for employers. It may seem discouraging; however, employers need not change their practices rapidly. To accommodate an employee who uses cannabis at work, an employer can start recalibrating the practices it has developed in assisting the person who has a prescription to use medical cannabis may have the probability of affecting or impairing his or her work. To limit the use of non-medical marijuana at work, an employer may look up existing practices related to the use of alcohol, other prescription drugs, or cigarettes. It may seem that cannabis has harmful effects on the user, depending on how much he or she intakes. However, on a positive note, it also allows those who are drug dependent and those who have existing medical conditions to work or earn a living. Moreover, those who are taking cannabis at work must adhere to the policies, rules, and guidelines established by their company or employer to ensure not to hamper any work-related functions or obligations. 









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