Cannabis in the Workplace

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A. This topic has many angles to explore. Some of them may not be explicitly stated in the initial case, but that doesn't mean they aren't issues you'd need to keep in mind and be prepared to address. For example:

  • What effect do drug testing rules have on employee recruitment and retention? How about on the overall work environment, corporate culture, and corporate image?
  • What are the legal boundaries for any action the company might take? That is, what must they do, and what are they not allowed to do? Is there any advantage in an organization choosing to be more flexible than they need to?
  • How can an organization best balance the need to accommodate those who have a medical reason for using cannabis while still controlling negative consequences from recreational users?
  • Are there other angles to consider? E.g., employee safety (OHS), customer opinions, worker preferences in a tight labour market, even health benefits...?
  • Is there a cultural or generational aspect to this topic? Do people of all cultures and ages feel the same way about it? Similarly, is there any variation in opinions/behaviour based on the industry involved or the educational background and profession of the employees?

B. Be sure to take the age and region of all publications into account. If they are focused on a place or time in which cannabis use is/was not legal or in which the legal environment is different from the jurisdiction in your case, you should be careful about applying their arguments, evidence, or policies to your case. That doesn't necessarily mean you must discard it all, however. Use your judgement and justify your decisions!

Industry, Safety, and Health Associations

Industry associations are interested in helping their member companies cope with new issues such as cannabis use among their employees. Similarly safety associations publish advice and research aimed at all companies and at the safety professionals working in those organizations. And since there is a strong health angle to cannabis use and abuse, many health advocacy/research associations might also have useful information.

Some quick Google searching will dig up many such organizations. For a starter, here are a few examples that came up in my initial searches:

Law Magazines, Presentations, and Journals

Search for law journal and law magazine articles, as well as posts on blogs at law office sites. Such publications may highlight key issues, give broad guidance, and even point out relevant court cases. For Canadian legal material, try LawSource or CanLII. However, in my experience most law reports can be very dense and full of jargon. It's often simpler to start by looking for blog posts and magazine articles written by lawyers.

For example:

Articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers

A. Business Source Complete covers many HR and OH&S magazines and journals, as well as general business and industry news... all of which are likely sources for articles on cannabis-related workplace issues and policies.

B. Our Canadian Points of View Reference Centre database is worth checking. Start with this quick search for (cannabis or marijuana) and (worker or employ*).

C For a Canadian angle, try CBCA Complete -- Look for articles using the same terms (as keywords rather than subjects) that you used in Business Source and Canadian Public Policy Complete. Also try Canadian Newsstream for Canadian newspaper articles.

D. Public opinion polling firms often conduct surveys that touch on societal and workplace issues of this sort. Start with the two sources listed below. For both of them, if you find a summary of a survey that seems relevant, be sure to browse to the bottom of the page to see if there are data tabulations or detailed tables with additional data.

  • New Global Study: Most Believe That Cannabis Will Be Legal In Coming Years
  • Two in Three Employees Say Management Hasn’t Communicated Expectations on Use of Recreational Cannabis in the Workplace
  • Sample: Cannabis Consumption on the Rise With Canadians Since Legalization


A. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research (National Academies)

B. Examples of real policies: try public sector organizations (e.g., universities, hospitals, etc.) to find copies of policies. Private sector companies are less likely to make such internal policies public, but they are trying to achieve the same goals in the same legal environment, so may be quite similar. For example, see the policies of SFU, the RCMP, and ...?

C. I've written a few blog posts that discussed the business and economics of legal marijuana. Those posts were more focused on things like the market size than on workplace policies, but some of the resources they included may still be of use to you, especially Statistics Canada's Cannabis Stats Hub!

D. The Globe & Mail has recently been focusing on this topic in partnership with the Conference Board of Canada. The immediate result has been several detailed articles filled with links and mentions of other research. For example:

<No other suggestions yet - but keep checking. Also, don't forget that this is your wiki: you are welcome to add tips here whenever you'd like. --- MB>