Canadian business owners discuss marijuana in workplace

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Saskatchewan business owners discussed marijuana in the workplace at a conference held in Regina on Monday.

The Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board invited business owners from around the province to address questions and concerns around pot in the workplace. Stakeholders around the country are still working to decipher the details of marijuana as legalization looms closer. Business owners are busy looking to create or adjust their personal pot policies.

"There (are) a number of concerns from industry and really it's a delicate balance between the rights of the individual and the responsibility to maintain a safe workplace," Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board member Kevin Mooney said.

The province is treading new water when it comes to weed: how to recognize when someone is impaired, how to test for it and how to accept it.

The conference included a presentation by a legal expert to help breakdown different examples of where marijuana is legal, and how business - big and small - can navigate both medicinal and recreational use by employees. MLT Aikins lawyer Michael Tochor believes the best practice for medical use is to disclose it to your employer.

"If it's recreational, I think that if it's somehow involved in the workplace I think you have to look to two things, look to what kind of policy the company has and the second thing is if you are in a safety sensitive industry,” Tochor said.

Safety-sensitive industries include jobs like construction or operating heavy machinery. For many, a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol is already in place. But, the legalization of pot and a potential boost in recreation, could mean a change in policy.

"I do suspect our policy will change significantly once they come up with an impairment test. Alcohol is easy because there's a breath test to judge impairment. This is a whole new ball of wax for a lot of different places,” EMW Industrial owner Dustin Brears said.

Legislation to legalize recreational marijuana is currently before the Senate, which has agreed to hold a final vote on the bill by June 7.

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