Marijuana legalization has led organizations all across Canada to develop their own policies for cannabis use. Universities, businesses, and hospitals are just a few examples of the kinds of organizations that have had to update their personal conduct policies to better reflect what they expect from their students or employees following legalization.


What Does Legalization Mean For Universities?

Post-secondary students represent one of the largest demographics of cannabis users in Canada. As such, numerous Canadian universities have attempted to get a head start on cannabis legalization by commissioning on-campus studies in order to gauge how it may affect students and faculty. Universities have engaged in student outreach, giving their students a chance to have a say on whether or not smoking marijuana should be allowed on-campus. While some schools have banned cannabis on campus, others have taken a more open-minded, liberal approach to the issue.

Universities that have decided to prohibit marijuana use have cited their commitment to following local bylaws that restrict smoking cannabis in public places. Diversely, schools that have decided to allow some form of cannabis use on their campuses have usually done so in response to their students’ wishes, as communicated through polling and research.

After polling its students, the University of Alberta in Edmonton decided to implement a policy designating specific spots on campus as marijuana smoking zones. The university found that the majority of students did not support any kind of marijuana use on campus, but knew that exceptions would need to be made for students who use the plant to medicate. By comparison, schools like The University of Calgary and McGill University have decided to ban cannabis use in all its forms, including edibles and topicals.

Technical schools have largely decided to ban marijuana use on their campuses. Since many of the programs offered by these schools use equipment that may harm students in case of accident, professors have been proactive in fighting to restrict cannabis use on campus.


What Does Legalization Mean For Businesses?

Businesses are emphasizing professionalism and safety when it comes to their employee’s use of marijuana. In positions where safety concerns may exist, businesses are being cautious and urging many employees to refrain from marijuana use both on and off the job. For instance, airline pilots and emergency response personnel are generally prohibited from consuming cannabis even outside of work hours.

Employers are citing a lack of research and knowledge as the reason for being so cautious with cannabis. As more research is conducted, and more information emerges about dosage and effects, policies are expected to become more precise, and potentially flexible.

Other businesses are emphasizing professionalism and pride as a means to discourage employees from consuming marijuana during work hours. Many employers are making a direct link to alcohol and asking their employees to refrain from consuming marijuana before or during work hours, just as they would alcohol. Some employers have been willing to make exceptions for medical marijuana patients, but most have attempted to communicate to their employees that legalization does not equate with a right to be impaired at work.

Legal experts believe that workplace restrictions placed on marijuana will inevitably lead to employer/employee lawsuits. As a general rule, employers cannot dictate what their employees do outside of work hours. As such, there are bound to be instances where employer/employee disagreements will result in litigation. As a workaround, politicians in some provinces have suggested legislation specifically designed to protect employers from these kinds of lawsuits.

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