While the medicinal use of marijuana has been permissible in Canada for some time, the Cannabis Act legalizes the drug for recreational use nationwide as of Oct. 17, 2018. Also known as Bill C-45, this federal law is designed to establish a regulatory framework, particularly as it relates to the production, distribution, sale, cultivation and possession of cannabis across Canada.
Cannabis Act Items of Note
The following are some of the major items of note regarding the Cannabis Act:
- Usage and growing limits—Those who are 18 years of age or older will be allowed to buy and grow a limited quantity of marijuana for personal use. Specifically, those of age can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public, share up to 30 grams of dried marijuana with other adults, and buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer.
- Criminal offences—The Cannabis Act will ticket individuals who exceed possession limits, enforce up to 14 years in jail for an illegal distribution or sale, and impose tough new penalties of up to 14 years in jail for those that give or sell marijuana to minors.
- Provincial involvement—Under the Cannabis Act, the provinces and territories will authorize and oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis, which will be subject to minimum federal requirements. In areas where there is no regulated retail framework, individuals would be able to purchase cannabis online from a federally licensed producer via secure home delivery.
Recommendations for Employers
While it is uncertain how much the legalization of recreational marijuana will impact the workplace, it will likely have a direct effect on workplace health and safety, the use of motor vehicles for work purposes, the scope and type of disciplinary procedures, work performance and work attendance.
To appropriately respond to the Cannabis Act, employers should consider doing the following:
- Review and understand cannabis legislation and guidelines that apply to the provinces in which they operate.
- Review and amend existing workplace policies and procedures as needed. Provide copies of these policies to all employees.