How to build an inclusive workplace policy

Times have changed and chances are your workplace policy needs an upgrade to include cannabis. Here are our tips for building an inclusive workplace policy.

Use the right language when addressing cannabis

The proper way to address the popular green plant in your workplace policy is cannabis. For over a century, it has been more commonly referred to as “marijuana,” however, “the word is rooted in xenophobia and misinformation.” In the early 1900’s, prohibition activists adopted the Spanish word “marijuana” to use in their campaigns which painted an unfair prejudice of Brown and Black individuals. When addressing cannabis in the workplace, language is important for inclusivity.

Acknowledge why people consume cannabis

For years, cannabis consumers have been discriminated against, often referred to as potheads, and stoners. These stereotypes were perpetuated by the media. It’s important to acknowledge that there are various reasons why people turn to cannabis. Now, more than ever, people are turning to cannabis to help with a number of ailments including Alzheimer's disease, ALS, HIV/AIDS, cancer, MS and many more.

Seventy-four percent (74%) of people who used cannabis in the past 12 months for medical purposes and who completed the medical section of the survey reported using cannabis in the past 30 days for medical purposes. - Survey by the Government of Canada

Promote an open-door policy

Employees are more likely to be open about their cannabis use if they feel that they can talk to their people managers. Your workplace cannabis policy should encourage medicinal cannabis patients to ask for accommodation. By doing so, you will be promoting inclusivity and workplace safety - especially if employees are in safety-sensitive positions.

Practice what you preach

Don’t simply update your workplace policy to include cannabis and file it. Educate your employees and inspire conversation by making your policy readily available to everyone within your organization. Schedule a time to review it as a team and give people the opportunity to ask questions. Whatever your cannabis policy is, make it known. Whether you are zero tolerance or allow cannabis use at home, but not at work, communicate it well and set expectations.

At RCU, we developed an e-learning course called CannEd which helps employers and employees address cannabis at work. Contact us at to learn how to implement CannEd in your workplace.

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