EDMONTON CANADA - With the federal government poised to introduce legislation legalizing recreational cannabis as soon as this week, the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce is urging lawmakers to seek balance between the significant economic opportunities the newly legalized industry will present with the substantial workplace safety issues that will arise.
Employers have both a legal and a moral obligation to provide safe workplaces. In safety-sensitive workplaces, drug use can lead to serious injury or death.
“Many businesses and industry groups have told us that marijuana use is completely incompatible with safety-sensitive workplaces,” said Janet Riopel, President and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. “The rights of individuals to use cannabis cannot outweigh the rights of employers to maintain a safe work environment.”
“The introduction of legal cannabis is potentially a huge economic opportunity,” said Riopel. “We believe that if legalization is undertaken thoughtfully, the economic benefits can be realized while limiting the risks to employers and workers.”
The Chamber recognizes that while employers have a legal obligation to accommodate an employee’s legitimate medical need, including the use of medical cannabis, employers don’t have to accommodate recreational cannabis use.
The Edmonton Chamber recommends the federal and provincial government:
Create a standard test to detect marijuana impairment, with legal limits for both traffic safety and workplace safety prior to the legalization of cannabis.
Educate employers about their rights and responsibilities related to cannabis use.
Encourage the adoption of workplace drug and alcohol policies.
Wait two years to legalize cannabis in order to thoroughly address workplace safety issues.
For more information, read our policy position, Addressing the Impacts of Marijuana Legalization on Workplace Safety.