Medical Marijuana and Workplace Intoxication | Co-Authors: Jordan Reiner, Bram Lecker

Medical Marijuana and Workplace Intoxication

Marijuana is in the news almost daily with legislation underway to legalize it. Canadian physicians are prescribing it with increasing frequency for pain, disability and chronic illness. Accordingly, with easier access to this drug, could workplaces encounter more cases of marijuana intoxication? Under our current laws, your employer can fire you for being intoxicated on duty. And they are not obliged to offer you notice or severance pay in this instance. However, with medical marijuana, the issue is not as clear cut. Your employer must treat this like any other prescription drug.

The nuances of this issue made headlines in 2013. The RCMP stripped veteran officer Cpl. Ron Francis of his uniform for smoking marijuana in public. His doctor had prescribed the drug for PTSD. To raise awareness of the stigma of PTSD, Cpl. Francis smoked marijuana in public while dressed up in his red serge. The RCMP took exception to this action and very sadly, Cpl. Francis committed suicide shortly after the discipline hearing. This incident magnified the emotionally charged nature of medical marijuana in the workplace. It also highlighted the dire need for both parties to manage the issue with sensitivity, tact and prudence.

Duty to Accommodate

Medical MarijuanaSimilarly, sensible employees must understand that they do not have carte blanche to show up intoxicated at work. In fact, Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to make the workplace safe for everyone. Medical marijuana users must disclose this fact to their employer. This is particularly important if you drive or operate equipment. Failure to disclose could work seriously against you if your impairment causes a workplace accident.

Failure to Accommodate

Following this disclosure, a sensitive employer would explore all avenues to accommodate you. This could involve a temporary paid leave of absence, an alternative position or retraining for a new job.

Unfortunately, some employers will not engage in meaningful discussions about marijuana, medical or not. Other employers may frustrate you into quitting or fire you shortly after you disclose. And this is when you need a lawyer.

At Lecker & Associates, we exclusively represent employees. We also specialize in constructive and wrongful dismissal cases. Our experienced lawyers will review your case to first seek solutions that protect how you earn a living. We can help your employer find proper accommodations and seek reinstatement of your job. Where neither is possible, we will negotiate the best severance package for you.

In many cases, we do not require a fee up front. Instead, we charge it at the end, as a percentage of your settlement. If you are caught up in an unfortunate dispute with your employer over medical marijuana, contact us.

Medical Marijuana and Workplace Intoxication | Co-Authors: Jordan Reiner, Bram Lecker
Cover Photo Source: Trimming Medical Marijuana, Flickr, C.C.
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