Jul 5, 2019
According to a recent article in The Globe and Mail, a lack of scientific research on cannabis impairment is causing a division between employers and workers, especially in safety-sensitive industries, “as some unions argue that overly cautious policies amount to an outright ban on the drug.” Author Alexandra Posadzki reports that when it comes to cannabis impairment, researchers, clinicians and cannabis advocates say that much is still unknown, including how long the drug’s effects on the brain last, which makes it difficult for many employers to know what to do when trying to implement policies that will keep workers and the public safe.
For insight into the issue Alexandra turns to legal expert Damian Rigolo, a partner in Osler’s Employment and Labour Group.
Damian tells The Globe and Mail that ultimately, regardless of the lack of scientific research, employers have a right to remove cannabis users — even those with a medical need — from safety-sensitive positions. The article also reports that a recent decision by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador found that “because it’s difficult or impossible for an employer to gauge how impaired a worker is, accommodating medical cannabis users would pose an undue hardship.”
“May it be subject to challenge later? Maybe, particularly if the science on how to measure impairment and cannabis gets better and gets more accurate and gets more specific and detailed," says Damian. "But for now I’d rather err on the side of being overly cautious than not cautious enough, in respect of industries like airlines and train transportation.”
For more information, read Alexandra Posadzki’s full article “Employers and workers clash over cannabis regulations” in The Globe and Mail.