The majority of Canadian workers are unclear on workplace expectations for marijuana legalization. File photo

Workplace weed: what is allowed with cannabis legalization

Can you smoke a joint and then go to work starting Wednesday?

If you’re unsure about your workplace policy surrounding the Oct. 17 legalization of recreational marijuana, fear not, as the majority of Canadian workers are unclear on workplace expectations.

According to an Ipsos poll conducted this month, only 18 per cent of working Canadians who are not part of management say the management team at their workplace has communicated clear expectations on the use of recreational cannabis in the workplace.

Sixty-five percent noted management has not communicated their expectations and 17 per cent are unsure of whether those expectations have been communicated clearly.

From the manager’s perspective, 55 per cent of managers indicated their organization’s employees clearly understand their expectations on the use of recreational cannabis in the workplace.

The study was conducted at the end of September, with a sample size of 1,000 working Canadians – 500 managers and 500 who are not.

Locally, School District 71 sent out a bulletin to staff, students and families about cannabis legalization and the impacts on schools in the Comox Valley this week.

According to SD 71, cannabis cannot be consumed in or on school property or within a prescribed distance. It also can’t be smoked or vaped anywhere where tobacco smoking and vaping are prohibited including a workplace, vehicle, playground or outdoor park, sports field, skate park or other places where children commonly gather, near entry/exits or at a bus stop.

In terms of police presence beginning Wednesday, Const. Monica Terragni, media spokeswoman for the Comox Valley RCMP, said the detachment has tools and resources in place, including officer training on the new legislation.

“When the clock strikes midnight, the Comox Valley RCMP will continue to keep our community safe and work with our community partners to prevent crime,” she explained.

“We have officers who are drug recognition experts and officers who are trained to do the standard field sobriety testing to identify and remove impaired drivers from our roads.”

She added the Comox Valley RCMP will continue to apprehend and charge impaired drivers, no matter what the cause of impairment – alcohol, prescription drugs, recreational cannabis or any combination of those.

Provincial agency WorkSafeBC is making one last push prior to Wednesday to remind both employers and workers about sharing responsibility for managing impairment in the workplace.

“Impairment in the workplace isn’t a new issue in B.C., but it’s become top of mind as cannabis becomes legal for recreational use,” said Tom Brocklehurst, director of prevention practices and quality for the organization in a release.

Under current occupational health and safety regulations, employers must not allow a worker who is impaired for any reason to perform work activities that could endanger the work or anyone else and not allow a worker to remain at any workplace while the worker’s ability to work safely is impaired by alcohol, drugs or any other substance.

The only municipality in B.C. to have a licensed marijuana shop by Wednesday is located in Kamloops.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said there are 173 dispensary applications pending approval in the province.

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