As the end of the year approaches, workplace functions and year-end parties become the topic of conversation around the office. As you prepare to sign off the year’s hard work with relaxation and seasonal festivity, we advise employers to keep Canada’s cannabis laws, and its implications, in mind. Only a year after recreational cannabis was legalized, and just one month after the legalization of cannabis edibles, the ‘Cannabis Canada conversation’ needs to be extended to social work events.
As the host, you as an employer can be held liable – or at least partially responsible – for any threats to the safety of your employees, both during and after a social work event. As your Duty of Care obligation, it is imperative that you take every measure to protect your employees.
From the start, every employer and employee should be educated about Canada’s cannabis laws and workplace policies. These policies, especially when extended to social events, can mitigate risks with information and facts. If your organization hasn’t already had this kind of training, consider adding RCU’s CannEd online cannabis education course to your 2020 calendar to provide complete awareness, safety, and responsibility in the work environment.
And, if you don’t already have a workplace policy in place, download our free template.
But the question remains: how can workplaces protect themselves and their employees while ensuring an enjoyable and safe year-end function?
Simply this - precautions should be taken before, during, and after a work function.
Awareness, awareness, awareness! You cannot pretend that cannabis Canada laws haven’t changed. In fact, fostering an unhealthy stigma around the use of Cannabis has the potential to lead to harmful misinformation and misguided choices.
As you plan your event, start educating yourself and your employees upfront about cannabis facts, effects of cannabis use, your expectations as an organization, as well as Canada’s cannabis-impaired driving laws.
Make sure ahead of time that you and another team member can spot the signs of cannabis impairment at the party. (RCU’s CannEd online cannabis education course provides education on detecting the signs of impairment.)
At the function, it may be helpful to have guests leave their keys in a safe place so that they do not drive off without anyone’s knowledge. It is also important to communicate that drinking alcohol and consuming cannabis increases the blood THC concentration. Alcohol may make the effects of cannabis more potent. When consumed together, it was found that ethanol in alcohol may enhance the body’s ability to absorb THC. According to Wigmore on Cannabis, drivers are x2 more likely to have an accident if they consume THC, x16 more likely to have an accident if they consume alcohol and x25 more likely to have an accident if they consume both cannabis and alcohol together.
Have the designated person, who will spot and monitor impairment, ready to organize alternative transport should the need arise. Keep your employees’ emergency contacts on hand and if anyone refuses help and insists on driving themselves, contact the police for assistance.
Another option is to pre-arrange transport for all guests (taxi, Uber, Lyft), in order to reduce the risks of driving penalties after the social event. Or, if budget allows, organize accommodation at the function’s venue. If you have some employees who are happy to refrain from cannabis and alcohol consumption, a carpool could be arranged for employees to get home.
We also suggest that you appoint people to check up on different groups of employees the next day - an added measure to guarantee their safety.
All Year Round
For a healthy workplace environment all year round, it is important to debunk the myths and stigmas surrounding cannabis use, educating employers and employees with the facts. Everyone in the workplace should be informed of their rights and responsibilities.
Find out more about Canada’s cannabis policies by visiting thercu.org - a cannabis education company committed to factual information and encouraging responsible cannabis use.