October 2 2018 Blog

The Low-Down on Construction – October 2, 2018

Are you ready for legalized cannabis?

In only a couple of weeks from now, on October 17th, marijuana will officially be legal in Canada. Whatever your position on this issue as a policy, it presents new challenges for police services, schools, and in the workplace.

Safety in the workplace is always the top priority of MERIT contractors and workers. We work hard every day and we should expect to go home safely every night. Obviously, impairment on the job is never an option, just as it’s never an option behind the wheel.

But along with many police services across Canada, MERIT has real concerns on how we are going to be able to test for impairment. The current testing devices approved for use in Canada can detect cannabis, but unlike alcohol breathalyzers, they do not actually measure impairment. Instead they only register the presence (and sometimes the amount) of THC.

Why is this is an issue on the job site? Well, what about a worker who needs medicinal marijuana, and is responsible in using it only at home after work hours? The testing devices will still detect it in his system but will be unable to indicate if he is, in fact, impaired or not. This puts employers and other workers in a difficult situation. On one hand, they deserve a safe workplace, but on the other hand people have a right to the medical treatments they’ve been prescribed. So in addition to all the other responsibilities employers and workers have on the job-site, they’re now being presented with complex situations that our own legal system hasn’t fully answered yet.

MERIT contractors already have some of the toughest jobs in the province, but balancing safety with privacy and legal issues, the safety of our workers and the public should always come first.

Let’s hope the government is able to clear some of the “smoke” on this issue soon.  We need clarity!