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Employers wrestle with cannabis policy ahead of legalization

An HR expert says one key consideration for employers is whether they are a safety-based organization.

Counting down to the legalization of marijuana, employers are getting prepared for the world of legal pot -- and its effects on the workplace.

One local HR expert says safety should be one of an employer's first considerations when setting cannabis policy.

"I think it's really important that employers understand that it really isn't a one-size-fits-all type of policy," said Karen Brownrigg, founder and CEO, iHR Advisory Services Ottawa.

Brownrigg says one key consideration for employers is whether they are a safety-based organization, with jobs where they need to worry about the safety of the public or their employees. She thinks employers also need to consider impairment and employees being fit-for-duty.

Some employers, like certain police services, have instituted bans on cannabis use -- either outright or within a set number of days before reporting to work.

"If you're going to make that kind of a policy, you've got to also be able to ensure your leadership team can help you enforce it," Brownrigg told 1310 NEWS. "If you don't have the tools and parameters around that, it's kind of like a shot across the bow that really doesn't have any impact."

Employees are getting multiple messages right now; being told by the province that they can smoke pot wherever they can smoke cigarettes. While employers may have to reinforce that having a smoke before work isn't the same as having a toke.

Jason White

About the Author: Jason White

Jason is an award-winning reporter at CityNews Ottawa. He brings about two decades of experience in news, with stops in Halifax and Toronto.
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