Marijuana legalization could cause workplace accidents

Published: March 13, 2018

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Recreational use of marijuana will be legalized in Canada no later than July. While much of the debate has revolved around how police will manage impaired drivers and how regulators will allow the sale of cannabis, there are also other “unintended consequences”.

One British Columbia politician and a government official from Saskatchewan have warned of unexpected accidents across Canada caused by marijuana. From oil and gas accidents to fires, smoking cannabis at work presents the potential for danger.

“I am worried about the unintended consequences of legalizing marijuana on safety at work,” B.C. Conservative Senator Richard Neufeld during a recent debate.

It will not be illegal for a worker to smoke cannabis and then go to their job. Equally, Canadian authorities have frowned upon attempts to have in-work screening for drugs and alcohol. Adding to the situation is the fact there is no approved test for testing the THC level in a blood system.

“Random drug testing is generally unacceptable in a safety-sensitive workplace because drug tests do not indicate actual, present impairment,” the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission previously said in an earlier paper.

Like authorities for driving, the Saskatchewan department of labour relations suggests workplaces should work on guidelines for defining impairment and say clearly when medical marijuana use is allowed in the workplace.