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Legal Cannabis – Business As Usual?

Today – October 17th, 2018 cannabis legalization takes effect making Canada the second country in the world to lead the charge on pot legalization.  This is a pivotal point in history from both a cultural and economic perspective.  As every entrepreneur and small business owner knows, changes to the Canadian landscape can have far-reaching impacts to small businesses everywhere.  While there are high hopes that the legalization of cannabis will have a positive effect on the economy, as small business owners, interactions with recreational cannabis will likely be primarily as employers and taxpayers — planting a different set of considerations to prepare for.  As legalization approaches, here are a few things small businesses need to anticipate.

 

Safety in the workplace: Update employee policies

To put it bluntly, small business owners should know cannabis legalization does not give employees the right to be impaired at work or while performing the duties of their employment.  Typical employment contracts and company policies prohibit substance abuse in the workplace and these documents will need to be updated to include cannabis as well.  Government advisors have stated that cannabis use should be no different than the protocols of alcohol or other legal substances such as prescription drugs.

 

Education is key: Train employees on the updated policies
Employers are required to ensure the safety of their employees in the workplace and will need to be prepared to dedicate time and resources to educate their staff on appropriate use of cannabis consumption.  Potential safety risks to the employee and other staff will need to be integrated into new training policies, and health and safety protocols.  Employers will need to ensure that management staff are able to identify and manage situations where an employee might seem to be impaired by the drug. Providing a protocol for staff to follow will offer some guidance on how to accurately address a concern with human resources or management.  Ensure your policies outline clear expectations from both an employer and an employee perspective. Map out specific scenarios and protocols from concerns being raised to how to handle an employee who might have a potentially negative reaction to the substance while on the job.  Ongoing education on safe and appropriate use of cannabis should continue to be a component of your corporate guidelines moving forward. This will ensure that everyone in the workplace understands their roles, responsibilities and rights.

 

Freshly rolled in: New hires and medical cannabis users still need to follow company policies.
From a hiring perspective, many businesses take the time to diligently mitigate discrimination in the workplace. Hiring people that align with your corporate values and adhere to your drug policies is critical. This however raises questions about employer rights regarding whether or not they hire a cannabis user.  Whether your company or industry administers regular drug tests or not, the safest way to avoid confusion surrounding marijuana use is to implement policies that convey that drug impairment of any kind isn’t acceptable while on the job.

As with most things freshly introduced, there will be growing pains. Planting the seeds of workplace safety and rolling out the appropriate training will position your small business for success.

At Bullfrog Insurance, we do what we do because we know being an entrepreneur is challenging. Our customers are busy and we are passionate about making their day just a little easier. We love hearing stories from our clients about how we simplified insurance while saving  them time and money. That feeling that comes from knowing we are helping someone succeed, is our why.