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How Does The Legalization of Marijuana in Canada Change Your Workplace Drug and Alcohol Policy?

Home » How Does The Legalization of Marijuana in Canada Change Your Workplace Drug and Alcohol Policy?

Recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada on October 17, 2018 and with the legalization of marijuana, we’ve been inundated with questions from our clients. What needs to change to ensure their workplaces are safe? Our answer is simple. If you’ve been enforcing a drug and alcohol policy that focuses on ensuring workers are fit for work, then not much needs to change.

Our comfort in saying that comes from a long history with the development and implementation of the early versions of what is now called the “Canadian Model for Providing a Safe Workplace.” Both Cari Chernichen and I, Jim Swiss,  have played significant roles in helping the industry to develop what began as the “Alcohol and Drug Policy Model for the Upstream Petroleum Industry.” It started in 2005 when I was asked to represent the Small Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (SEPAC) on a petroleum industry task force to develop tools for employers to manage alcohol and drug risks more effectively in the workplace. In addition, I was asked to provide implementation training by presenting several alcohol and drug courses throughout the petroleum industry.

At the same time, Cari was asked to help create and finalize the policy model and develop a communications plan.

The Alcohol and Drug Policy Model for the Upstream Petroleum Industry was endorsed by all parts of the upstream industry and provided guidelines for establishing and implementing company alcohol and drug policies. Although legalized marijuana wasn’t a consideration at that time, it was included as one of the drugs that could impair a workers ability to work safely. For the next 12 years, this document stayed closely aligned with and paralleled the evolution of COAA’s Canadian Model. This also provided the basis for the alcohol and drug practice in ABCanada’s HSE program.

Over the years, additional versions of the Canadian Model were developed and adopted by  COAA and Energy Safety Canada. At the same time, ABCanada incorporated guidance from the new Canadian Models into our cloud-based HSE system. By adopting this model our clients can provide a safer workplace by reducing the risks associated with the inappropriate use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace.

ABCanada continues to provide guidance on worksite alcohol and drug management to our clients through STELLAR HSE. Part of our service includes regulatory monitoring and updates and the most recent “Canadian Model” (Version 6 July 2018) is now being incorporated into our HSE program update.  It is available now in a DRAFT version and will be on-line by the end of October.

The main sections in this new alcohol and drug practice are:

  • Policy and Scope
  • Expectation
  • Commitment
  • Alcohol and Drug Work Rule
  • Compliance with Work Rule
  • Disclosure of Information
  • Company-hosted Events
  • Resources

Although alcohol and drug policies need to be updated to address a few changes in testing levels and wording, the main message hasn’t changed.

  • Do not use or possess alcohol or non-prescription drugs on company workplaces, and
  • Do not sell alcohol or drugs of any kind on company workplaces, and
  • Do not report for work or continue to work if you are impaired in any way by alcohol or drugs and therefore unfit for work..

ABCanada – Who we are and what we do

At Alliance Borealis Canada Corp., our roots are in workplace health and safety programs.

Since 1997, we have conquered major H&S projects all over the world and have used the knowledge we’ve gained to create our cloud-based, expertly designed software for reporting and tracking incidents and a variety of leading safety indicators. Our goal is to change the way you see your HSE partner by providing solutions that work at every level of your company and make it easier for you to improve safety performance. Ask us about our newest release, STELLAR HSE Management & Tracking. Call us at 1.888.295.2808 or send us an email.

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