Posted: 10 October 2018
Several days after tabling Bill 36, the Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018, the Ontario government updated its explanatory note on cannabis legalization in the province (see https://www.ontario.ca/page/cannabis-legalization). The note makes clear that, on October 17, 2018, smoking or vaping cannabis – for medical or recreational purposes – will be permitted in a number of areas, including private residences, many outdoor public places, and controlled areas in: long-term care homes, certain retirement homes, residential hospices, provincially-funded supportive housing and designated psychiatric facilities or veterans’ facilities (subject to certain restrictions). The explanatory note also lists restrictions on places of consumption, including enclosed public places, enclosed work places, and grounds of community recreational facilities.
Of particular interest to employers, the note states: “Consuming recreational cannabis in the workplace is illegal and will continue to be after legalization […].” This outright prohibition does not apply to medical cannabis and, as such, employers would be well advised to ensure they understand the rules relating to medical cannabis, including their obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code and Occupational Health and Safety Act. In addition, employers should review their workplace policies to ensure that appropriate restrictions are in place with respect to recreational cannabis use to address drug and alcohol use, scents in the workplace, cannabis use by people supported and community members, and impairing medications. We will continue to follow developments and provide updates with respect to Ontario’s legal cannabis regime.