Legal Advice on Cannabis in the Workplace

Many of you have asked if the Branch has a position statement on cannabis in the aquatic workplace. We have researched this matter and decided not to create a position statement but instead to share a comprehensive white paper on the topic provided by a top employment lawyer, Brad N. Cocke of Harris and Company LLP. This paper covers all the issues in a comprehensive way and is an excellent reference for managers, HR, unions, and employees alike. The paper concludes with the following 7 recommended actions for your workplace which we hope you have already or will discuss internally: 

  • Review and update your policies to reflect legal recreational use. Focus on impairment rather than legality or a particular substance (a policy restricting “illicit drug use” may no longer restrict cannabis); 
  • Train employees on your drug and alcohol policy. Educate them on the effects of use both on them and their coworkers; 
  • Safety first! Remind employees of their obligation to attend work fit for duty and of the employer’s obligations to ensure the workplace is safe; 
  • Train employees to recognize impairment and to identify and gather evidence on cannabis use; 
  • Communicate to your employees that legalization is not a license to show up to work impaired; 
  • Where an issue arises with respect to an employee using cannabis in the workplace, or attending work after using cannabis, gather all of the evidence before deciding whether a disciplinary approach (recreational) or accommodation (medical or pursuant to a substance use disorder) approach is required; 
  • Anticipate requests for benefits coverage. Consult with your benefits carrier regarding coverage for medicinal cannabis. 

Anyone interested in further advice or perspective on this matter should contact Brad directly at bcocke@harrisco.com or call him at 778-328-2542.