Cannabis in the Workplace

PSHSA is working with Ontario employers, supervisors and workers to provide information on cannabis and applicable legislation. Some of the areas we are assisting with are around accommodation and suggested control measures for the workplace.


PSHSA has partnered with McMillan LLP a leading business law firm serving public, private and not-for-profit clients across key industries in Canada, the United States and internationally. As the use of medical marijuana in Ontario continues to increase, employers will need to make changing and updating workplace policies a leading priority.

medical marijuana

What Ontario legislation applies?


There are various pieces of legislation that apply to the legalization of Cannabis including:


Controlled Drugs and Substances Act – Cannabis is currently listed as a Schedule II drug. (Gov of Canada – Justice Laws, 1996). This means that it has a high potential for abuse, but has a valid medical application.


Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) – Medicinal cannabis is available to all Canadians as long as they have an authorization from their doctor for a valid medical condition.


Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) – This will legalize the use and sale of recreational cannabis. In Ontario, you must be at least 19 years old to purchase cannabis when it becomes legal to do so. According to the Act, “No person shall consume cannabis in a public place, a workplace within the meaning of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, a vehicle or boat. Medicinal cannabis users are subject to any prohibitions or restrictions set out under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017”


An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (Bill C-46) – This will add in new criminal offences regarding cannabis use, including drug-impaired driving charges.


The Smoke Free Ontario Act was repealed and replaced with Bill 174 – Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017 This Act will forbid smoking cannabis in public spaces, similar to tobacco. However, since it’s not in effect yet, it may be adopted by employers as best practice until it is enacted.


According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, section 25(2)(h), employers must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. (Weir & Pennell, 2017) (Gov of Ontario , 2018) (PSHSA, 2018). This includes your due diligence as an employer to protect your workers and provide a safe working environment from safety risks due to cannabis impairment.


Driving under the influence – even if you use cannabis medicinally, if a substance has impaired your ability to drive or operate a vehicle, it is illegal for you to be driving

PSHSA Resources

Medical Cannabis Fast Fact
This PSHSA Fast Fact provides Ontario employers, supervisors and workers with basic information on cannabis, the history of medical cannabis in Canada, applicable legislation, considerations for accommodation and suggested control measures for the workplace.
Two-Part Series Webinar on Medical Marijuana
Part 1 provides basic information on cannabinoids, an overview of medical marijuana in Canada, applicable legislation and how it may impact the workplace. Part 2 provides more in depth information on legal framework, accommodation and recommendations.
Clearing the Haze: The Impacts of Marijuana in the Workplace
PSHSA participated in an expert panel on Cannabis in the Workplace at The HRPA 2018 Annual Conference and Trade Show. Kim Slade, Director of Emerging Markets and Commercialization reviewed workplace concerns, legislation, types of policies that can be implemented along with 5 tips to developing a workplace policy.
Black Market to Blue Chip
This webinar is part of the PSHSA and Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development’s Future of Prevention Webinar Series. This presentation looks at an intersection of current trends and the growing cannabis innovation ecosystem, including public safety and public health concerns, workplace challenges and economic implications.
Fit for Duty Policy Template
This provides organizations a sample policy that designed to outline the responsibilities of workplace parties including the employer, supervisor, worker and contractors or sub-contractors. It sets out sample procedures for what is prohibited at the workplace, how investigations will occur, signs and symptoms of impairment, duty to accommodate and return to work.
Cannabis … An Employer’s Guide to the New Normal ebook
The purpose of this guide is to provide employers relevant and timely information on how to address Cannabis in the workplace considering the legalization effects. The resource will provide an introduction to Cannabis, information about impairment and its’ effects in the workplace, relevant legislation and steps that you can take to update your workplace impairment policies.

Other resources


Darryl Hiscocks of Torys LLP believes murkiness over marijuana use in the workplace will become a legal battleground, especially as legalization will remove the stigma associated with pot use. Read more as he explores employers grave concerns over the ability to detect and enforce marijuana in the workplace. 


Canada’s Occupational Health and Safety Magazine review how recreational cannabis use is set to become legal by July 1, 2018, pending the passing of Bill C-45. Marijuana sees a wider social acceptance today, and many researchers agree that pot is no more harmful and less addictive than alcohol and nicotine, which have almost always been legal.



In the coming months, PSHSA will be working to formulate a sector-wide approach to work with employers on helping them develop workplace policies, strategies and risk assessments related to the legalization of cannabis. In the meantime inquiries can be directed to Jackie Sam at and Maryam Kham at

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