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Tell Your Employer The Truth About Cannabis Use, Even If It's Difficult

Disclosing medical cannabis use to your employer can be scary. Realistically there are a number of problems with the disclosure process. However, it is important to disclose your prescription or you risk termination if your consumption is uncovered.

Here's what to expect if you disclose: Your employer will be surprised.

Although medical cannabis is legal in Canada, most employers are not experienced with managing this in the workplace. For decades, workplaces have had a zero tolerance approach to cannabis. This is changing, in part because the courts have been clear that employers have a broad duty to accommodate medical cannabis. However, employers are still playing catch-up on cannabis.

Your employer may not know how to handle It

Employers are behind the eight ball on this topic and you may find your employers scrambling once you disclose your medical use. Employers are not educated on medical cannabis and don't have internal procedures for managing it.

Once things get rolling, there will be a process you will need to work through. Your employer does need to do their due diligence to ensure you are fit for duty as cannabis is an impairment-causing substance.

They will ask for medical information

Your employer will request medical information in order to assess if you require accommodation. This is a good thing – it means you're still talking. Your employer does need to assess your fitness for work, and requesting your medical prognosis and work restrictions is part of the process. Keep the lines of communication open and proactively provide appropriate information. Remember, your employer is not entitled to know your medical diagnosis.

There is a chance you won't return to your job

If you have you a safety-sensitive position your employer will need to ensure that you are not impaired during the course of your duties. This will be dependent on a number of factors including your tolerance, how you dose, and the time of day you consume cannabis.

This should be determined through consultation with a physician who can assess your fitness for duty. If it is found that you cannot safely do your job, your employer will have to accommodate you. This may mean that you may not be able to return to your former position while you medicate with cannabis.

Medical cannabis is becoming more mainstream, but change takes time. If you are cannabis patient who holds a safety-sensitive position, you should disclose use. Your employer may be surprised by this information, but be patient and keep the lines of communication open. You can help the process by speaking with your physician about any work restrictions prior to disclosing use.

If you can proactively offer information and show you are willing to work alongside the employer, it should help things go smoothly. If things do not go well when you disclose use to your employer, you may consider speaking with an employment lawyer.

Alison McMahon is a workplace expert based in Alberta, Canada and the Founder of Cannabis At Work. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn where she provides overdue commentary on weed + work.


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