Canadian Employers Can Ban Employees from Consuming Cannabis, Even in their Off-Hours

Canadians might need to check with their boss before buying a joint on October 17, when recreational cannabis becomes legal across the country. Despite the federal government's decision to repeal marijuana prohibition, individual companies can still ban employees from consuming cannabis, according to Katrina Ingram, COO of Cannabis at Work - a company that educates employers and workers about issues involving cannabis in the workplace.

"Recreational use is really governed by an employer's drug and alcohol policy. And that is up to the employer to set that particular policy," Ingram told Huffington Post. "So in terms of cannabis, do they have the right to do that? Technically yes."

Medical use, however, can't be discriminated against, and employers are responsible for accommodating workers who are also cannabis patients. This might include "reorganizing aspects of their job in order to ensure that safety is taken into account."

When it comes to drug testing, Ingram says that employers can only administer tests at specific times - upon hiring a new employee, or after some kind of incident. "You can't just go around randomly drug-testing people," she explained.

Some large companies like Air Canada have already begun rolling out cannabis bans. Whether or not others follow suit has yet to be seen. But we hope most employers follow the lead of the Canadian military, which is okay with their employees enjoying a joint in their off-hours.


After a battery of tests and misdiagnoses, I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease twelve years ago, and thus began a long battle with trial-and-error medical treatments. I changed my diet several times, even though my doctors didn’t seem confident it would change much (it didn’t), went to physical therapy for pain-related issues, and took so many different pharmaceuticals I can’t even begin to recall each and every one. My days were foggy due to side effects from pharmaceuticals, such as steroids, that made me feel worse than I did before I even took them.

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