Those in the business community who are bracing for next summer’s legalization of recreational cannabis are already dealing with it, whether they recognize it or not.
Medical cannabis is already legal, and while human rights legislation requires employers to accommodate those with prescriptions, pending “undue hardship,” there’s no such provision for recreational cannabis.
When it comes to dealing with medical cannabis, “don’t panic,” local lawyer David Swayze of Meighen Haddad LLP said, adding, “we’re already doing it. We’re doing it with other medications, so medical marijuana doesn’t raise any concerns from me in that respect.
Swayze joined Elite Safety Services co-owner Marc Watt in speaking at a Brandon Chamber of Commerce breakfast event at Clarion Hotel & Suites on Tuesday, covering the topic “Marijuana in the Workplace.”
During question period, Growers n’ Smokers owner Rick Macl clarified that there are already a lot of people in Brandon and the surrounding area medicating with cannabis, and that he has personally linked almost 600 people up with physicians who prescribe the product during the past few months.
While employers are already dealing with cannabis, there’s a prevailing belief that its use will spike once its recreational use is legalized next summer; a concern that Tuesday’s meeting strived to address.
Unfortunately, these concerns were far from dismissed, with Watt saying that although urinalysis and oral tests are available, which determine whether someone has ingested cannabis, there’s a great deal of ambiguity in the results.
“I have a concern with the impairment and that there’s no test available that can test the recency of exposure,” he said, adding that the results are neither immediate nor do they adequately measure how impaired the person being analyzed is.
Cannabis’s properties can remain measurable in the human body for months, Watt said, adding that there is no clear consensus on what amount constitutes intoxication.
Swayze pointed out that there’s even ambiguity when it comes to alcohol, a “lightweight” can be at a .07 blood alcohol content and be considered impaired.
“As an employer we’re going to have to be really careful, especially in a safety-sensitive situation,” Swayze said, adding that some people might find themselves “unhappily sweeping floors” instead of operating heavy machinery until such time as medical evidence comes forward that they are not intoxicated by their medical cannabis prescription.
Depending on the trade, there remain significant safety concerns as it relates to people being stoned at their job site, Watt said, citing those working on wind turbines 300 feet in the air as an easy example.
While Watt said that he tests for various drugs and not just cannabis, there’s a special level of ambiguity when it comes to cannabis results, with Swayze concluding “the science on this is still relatively young.”
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 29, 201
Source via Winnipeg Free Press