Canada legalized marijuana last month, and many welcomed the progressive step towards allowing citizens to freely use cannabis without penalty. But now the country's factory workers may not be so free.
The chairman of the Canadian Association of Mold Makers Jonathon Azzopardi said in an interview that he wants to institute a zero-tolerance policy for marijuana use by Canadian factory workers. Azzopardi said it's simply a safety concern, and he doesn't want people who are intoxicated to operate heavy machinery and put people's lives at risk.
“I think for any heavy industrial machinery where lives are at risk, I think zero tolerance is the only option,” he said. “We have to wear safety glasses when we’re on the shop floor. Both parties are punished, and there’s a zero-tolerance level for not wearing safety glasses.”
Azzopardi said he's fine if workers use marijuana in their off-time, but they shouldn't have any traces of cannabis in their system when they're working. However, this is simply not the reality of marijuana. A person can have traces of marijuana in their system for days or even weeks after they use it, but not feel any of the effects. So someone could test positive for marijuana but it would have absolutely no effect on their job performance.
Under Canada's new marijuana laws, the government would need to approve any policy that institutes a zero-tolerance policy towards cannabis. Other industries have approached marijuana like alcohol, where if someone is clearly intoxicated on the job, they should be punished. But otherwise whatever they do outside of the office is their business.
Obviously with factory workers this is a bigger issue because someone showing up high to operate dangerous machinery is different than someone showing up to an office job high. But punishing people for partaking in a legal activity in off-hours doesn't seem to be the way to do it.
What this really proves is how much we need a more reliable test for when people used marijuana.