A comprehensive campaign approach involving policy, education, and employee engagement is needed to address cannabis law changes. This is the “preventative maintenance” of the 2018 Canadian worksite.

That is a mouthful, but not only does it say a lot, it means a lot as well. So let’s unpack that statement.

The key is really understanding that, just like taking a vehicle in for regular inspections and maintenance, safety campaigns like those needed around cannabis and other drugs and alcohol are preventative maintenance. They guide our day to day and protect from safety threats. And just like taking care of a vehicle, that maintenance on your site will help ensure a long, safe, and incident free life for your “healthy worksite”.

It will be too late once an incident has happened to look back and wonder what more could have been done to clear through the confusion of cannabis law changes. Now is the time to act, before October 17th opens the door to increased incident chances, and confusion around what is, and is not, permissible within the new Canadian workplace.

The simple fact is that when we look at the states of Denver and Washington in the US, where recreational cannabis use has been legal for years, they show us that the use of the drug increases across all age groups after legalization.

With increased use, comes an increased opportunity for misunderstanding rules and regulations and ultimately, for increased workplace incidents related to cannabis impairment.

A comprehensive program to address this BEFORE it becomes a problem is the key to avoiding exposing yourself, your workforce, and your business, to unnecessary risk.

Policy is step 1. Updating existing policies to ensure they contain language that addresses cannabis directly, both ensures your stance and message on the drug’s use, possession, or impairment by, is clear. Certainly any policy or program that addresses impairment in general should be prioritized, but additionally, those covering the use of prescription medication, and those on substance use in general are crucial.

Education is step 2. It’s critical that leaders know, and can enforce your stance on impairment and approach to the new cannabis reality at work. It’s also important to train every level of employees so they (and you) can be confident in their understanding of rights and responsibilities when it comes to cannabis at work.

And finally, communication and engagement is step 3. It will keep safety, and the importance of being Fit For Duty and unimpaired, at the forefront in the workplace. At the end of the day, consistent messaging will engage your workforce and leadership to apply the safe work knowledge they have every day.

Now is truly the time to address cannabis law changes and apply preventative maintenance to keep your workplaces safe.

(Written by Eric Atkinson -Lead Instructional Designer – The Cannabis Learning Series)