Chamber held weed workplace workshop

Shawna O'Neill, Special to TC Media
Chamber held weed workplace workshop
Ivan Ross Vrána spoke at the Ramada today about marijuana usage in the workplace (Shawna O'Neill/ TC Media).

CORNWALL, Ontario – The legalization of marijuana has elicited concerns over regulations within the workplace. Today the Cornwall & Area Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC), and the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre held a luncheon to help local businesses understand how legalization may affect them.

“It’s a fascinating dynamic that we will be in, at least for the first little while,” said the guest speaker Ivan Ross Vrána. Vrána worked with Health Canada for 18 years and is now the Vice President of Public Affairs with Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

Vrána’s company has noticed a decrease in acceptance of legalization from 65 to 45 per cent through polling ventures over the past three years.

“You can use tobacco and alcohol as a bit of a proxy to try and understand this industry a little bit more, and you can certainly try to use it as you try to understand how this will impact your business from an HR policy side,” said Vrána.

One of the biggest concerns amongst attendees was the responsibility that employers will face with confronting individuals who could be using marijuana.

“You’re going to be telling a worker the exact same thing you would be telling them about alcohol: don’t go out at lunchtime and get hammered,” said Peter Gray, who works with Inclusion Alliance out of Job Zone d’emploi. “There’s no legislation on it, so, what does that mean? It’s going to be up to the individual employer to rewrite all of their policies surrounding that.”

Vrána believes that employers have the right to ask if an employee is impaired according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, even if an employee is taking marijuana for medical purposes. He discussed how there have been some cases where employees have brought their employer to court and lost because it is seen as the employees’ responsibility to disclose this information.

The Senate is expected to vote on Bill C-45 on June 7.

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