Weed is Coming to Your Office – and That’s Okay

Article by Leah Eichler, The Globe and Mail

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Have you ever gone to work high?

At one time, this may have been a question that underachieving high school students asked each other as they made their way to their evening shift at Burger King. However, as the frequency and legitimacy of marijuana usage increases, the question may start popping up in professional workplaces, too.

It remains a challenge to gauge how many people – either legally or illegally – use marijuana on the job. In the United States, the National Institutes of Health found that just under 10 per cent of the U.S. adult population reported using marijuana in the past year and its use among adults had more than doubled over the previous decade. But that may be only the tip of the iceberg, considering that approximately 20 million pounds of marijuana is grown in the United States every year.

In Canada, the projected number of licensed users of medical marijuana is expected to hit 433,638 by 2024. Once legalization takes place, it could become commonplace to see people lighting a joint on their way to work.

So how will companies handle their employees’ marijuana usage and determine whether or not it has a negative impact on their work? According to George Waggott, a labour-relations and employment-law partner at McMillan LLP in Toronto, this will be tricky. For starters, it’s challenging to prove an employee’s usage, since unlike with alcohol, a blood test or Breathalyzer test cannot easily measure it. Even when employees acknowledge they are using marijuana, the medical community remains conflicted over what constitutes impairment by THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

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