Forty-eight percent of safety-sensitive industries have yet to introduce a zero-tolerance policy on cannabis because of a lack of clarity on issues such as privacy and impairment, according to a survey by the Conference Board of Canada. which also found that only a third of all companies surveyed would directly provide employees with education on cannabis use.
The findings, reports Truck News, are part of the report Acting on the Cannabis Act: Workplace Policy Approaches to Cannabis, released in August.
How to manage the implications of cannabis in the workplace has been a major topic of debate since long before pot became legal last fall.
“It’s not easy to adopt a zero-tolerance policy,” said Monica Haberl, senior research associate on the Conference Board’s Cannabis at Work file.
“One of the challenges even for safety-sensitive workplaces is the fact that in many industries there are no legislation or regulations in place. So, it can just be tricky for organizations to put in place that zero-tolerance policy,” she said.
She said it is much easier for companies in the U.S. to adopt a zero-tolerance policy because cannabis is still illegal federally.
“In addition, random testing and testing for drugs and alcohol is much more, well, socialized in the U.S. In fact, in some industries it is actually mandated whereas in Canada, random testing, for example, can be very challenging to implement for employers,” said Haberl.
Another problem is the lack of a proper definition for impairment. Sixty per cent of respondents did not have a definition.
“The majority of responding organizations don’t have a definition for impairment within their workplace, which means that even though employees know they have to come to work unimpaired, they might not fully understand what that requires,” Haberl said.
She said one way of bridging the gap is education.
“It’s one of the simplest gaps to close. Cannabis education offers a practical approach and can be tailored to suit the needs of safety-sensitive workplaces as well as those without serious safety concerns,” she said.
In Ontario, adult use of cannabis reached 20% in the first quarter, up from 14% in the same period last year, according to the National Cannabis Survey conducted by Statistics Canada.
“When we see an increase in use, it is always concerning. That is not just people who don’t work,” Snider-Adler said.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance, meanwhile, has joined other safety sensitive industries in consistently calling for the development of a comprehensive drug and alcohol testing regime in Canada.
CTA supports a zero-tolerance approach until at least roadside testing technology has caught up. In the case of alcohol, the roadside test is proven and understood. For cannabis, while some devices have been approved, there are still widespread questions about their deployment and accuracy.
In Ontario, there is a zero-tolerance regime for commercial vehicle drivers for drug and alcohol use.
CTA is closely monitoring the situation and provides its Board of Directors periodic updates on its impacts and resources on how to implement proper drug and alcohol policies in the workplace.
With files from Truck News. Full Truck News story here.