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Making It Work: Specific Ways Employers Can Accommodate Medical Marijuana Patients

Medical cannabis use is on the rise. As more people look to marijuana as an alternative medical treatment, we see an impact on other parts of patient's lives, like work.

The duty to accommodate is a big, amorphous concept and the extent to which an employer is required to accommodate an employee depends on factors such as the size of the employer and the financial resources available to them. It will also depend on how and when the employee needs to use cannabis and the nature of their job. An employer will not be required to accommodate an employee past the point of undue hardship – another nebulous concept.

In past articles we have looked at case law including French vs. Selkin Logging and Wilson vs. Transparent Glazing Systems. It is clear that in Canada employers have a duty to accommodate medical cannabis use in the workplace as long as the employee has a valid prescription for cannabis.

So, what can both employers and employees expect accommodation to look like?

Here are some examples of how an employee's cannabis use could be accommodated at work:

* Provide access to refrigerator to store food supplements and/or medications

* Allow longer breaks

* Allow for a flexible work schedule and flexible use of leave time

* Allow the employee to work from home

* Provide additional training or re-training

* Provide memory aids such as schedulers or organizers

* Provide flow charts to indicate work steps in a task

* Allow the employee to use notes to reminders of important dates or tasks

* Reassign the employee to a different role or re-bundle their duties

* Remove safety-sensitive duties from an employees job

It is important to remember that an individual employee's accommodation is confidential. Other employees may see that the employee is being accommodated due to changes in their work environment, but an employee's disability or requirements of the accommodation should not be disclosed.

Just like other forms of workplace accommodation, medical cannabis accommodation requires a cooperative approach from both the employee and employer to make it successful.


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