October has come and gone, and cannabis is officially legal in Canada. What does this mean for your dental practice and your employees?
It means that there is going to be some change within your office, and you will have to take a few steps to keep a happy, well-informed team.
Your main priority is to gain an understanding of the regulations for medical and non-medical use, as well as the expectations of your staff. This knowledge is essential in establishing a clear, permissible policy on cannabis in your practice.
Take time to have a look at the current policies and practices in place. Do your employees understand their rights concerning cannabis use?
If you don’t have a clearly-outlined process in place, this is a great time to create a new one, adding in the new cannabis policies.
Does the legalization of cannabis mean employees can use it at work?
In some cases, the answer is yes.
There is a “duty to accommodate” in Canada, which applies to those who are affected by a disability and require cannabis for a medical purpose. This allows prescription cannabis use in the workplace, but they must have medical notation.
That being said, your employees have a right to privacy. You may ask for a doctor’s notation, but it does not have to specify the impairment related to their medical cannabis use.
There is also a duty to accommodate those who are affected by cannabis smoke or vapour. You may have to establish a specific area of the office where employees can consume medical cannabis away from those who it negatively affects, or ask that users consume edible cannabis instead. Consider which approach will allow you to fulfill your duty while maintaining a positive, inclusive work environment.
Despite its legalization, it is not legal for employees to use recreational cannabis within the walls of your dental practice. Laws against smoking in the workplace still apply.
Additionally, the legalization of cannabis does not give people the right to be impaired on the job. This includes using cannabis before work if the effects will cause impairment during work hours.
According to workplace medical testing and assessments company DriverCheck, cannabis impairment can last for 24 hours. This is important to communicate to your employees, especially those who may use cannabis recreationally on the weekend, to ensure sobriety for Monday morning.
Communicating your policy to your staff is key. This is a new law, and everyone is still learning about it, so it’s important to be on the same page.
For medical cannabis users, it’s important to create a safe and open environment for employees to approach you with their medical needs. This will allow open and honest communication around cannabis use and a smooth accommodation process.
For recreational use, be sure to communicate your expectations to your staff verbally and in writing. Some may think that marijuana use is like cigarette use on company time — it’s important to debunk this right away.
When everyone understands the new policies, your office can move forward with the new cannabis law in a professional manner for both you and your patients.
Communication is key. Ensure your policies are clear and both medical and non-medical policies and expectations are outlined. This will ensure a positive work environment surrounding cannabis and will make for a clear understanding for you and your team moving forward.