With cannabis legalization just around the corner, TEC Canada speaker Sandra Crozier-McKee has been guiding business leaders on how to prepare through implementing or modifying their workplace policies. Read what Sandra has emphasized as key aspects leaders need to be aware of before October 17.

What are some of the biggest challenges business leaders are dealing with regarding the new legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada?

Sandra Crozier-McKee: In spite of the fact that medical marijuana was legalized in 2001, a study by the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) conducted 14 years later revealed that only 11% of respondents had revised their policy to address it.

Almost half of the businesses that had a medical marijuana policy felt it would not address recreational use. This is a strong indication that the majority of businesses need to prepare their policy for both medical and recreational use. This is not an easy challenge but one that must be accepted in order to secure the safety of employees and the business itself.

How can workplaces manage the change?

SCM: Workplace leaders must first obtain the essential knowledge and break the process into steps including assessing the current work place sites, job descriptions, physical demands and hazards.  The results will assist in supporting the basic policy requirements including the need to accommodate. Once the policy is complete, it must be communicated and a sign off procedure put in place for the management, staff, volunteers, union members and other stakeholders.  Many assume that only high-risk businesses will be affected but safety is an issue in almost any job.

This is not just about policy, it is also about change management, respect, communication and fair treatment. Canadians are embarking on a new journey into uncharted territory and it will be leaders who chart the course.

How can TEC members prepare in the coming months to avoid any issues?

SCM: TEC members can set an example for others by arming themselves with knowledge, organizing a plan of action with regular updates and educating their teams.