It's important to disclose your medical marijuana use, rather than try to conceal it. To find out why, we need look no further than the ultimately failed grievance launched by the Newfoundland International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers, Local Union 1620 on behalf of their employee, Brendon Uprichard.

Uprichard held a medical cannabis prescription. He applied for a safety-sensitive job at a camp and stopped his cannabis use for two weeks leading up to the pre-access drug test. He passed the test and did not disclose his cannabis prescription and use to management.

Uprichard brought his cannabis to the camp, although he hid it outside of the premises in a ditch. He would leave the camp in the evening, medicate and then return. He did this because he knew drugs were not allowed in the camp.

The company had a workplace policy that restricted drug use in the camp unless a valid prescription was held and disclosed.

Eventually, Uprichard was caught and his medical cannabis use was exposed. He was terminated.

Due to his lack of disclosure of his cannabis prescription and because the company had a policy requiring disclosure, his termination was upheld at arbitration.

Lessons learned:

  • Employers should be explicit in their policies on impairment causing prescription drugs, including medical cannabis.
  • Employers should require disclosure of prescription drugs for employees holding safety sensitive positions and clearly outline consequences of failure to disclose.
  • Employees should be aware of their employer's drug policies and disclosure requirements.
  • Employees should be aware that breach of a drug policy may result in termination and such terminations have been upheld in the courts.
  • It should also be noted that this case exposes many inherent issues with disclosure. The disclosure process is far from perfect, which leads employees to game the system.

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.