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Employers Take Note – Recreational Use of Marijuana is One Step Away from Becoming Legally Permissible in Canada

On the evening of June 18, 2018, the Senate passed Bill C-45, an Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Control Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (the “Act”), as amended. The Bill still needs to receive Royal Assent. Prime Minister Trudeau announced today that the legislation will take effect on October 17, 2018.

Under the Bill’s transitional provisions, provinces will be allowed 8 to 12 weeks after the law comes into force to prepare for the sale of recreational cannabis. We would expect that provinces will also amend related legislation, such as laws regulating smoking in public places, to include restrictions on smoking or vaping cannabis.

Once the Act is in force, individuals who are 18 years of age or older will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of legally obtained, dried cannabis in a public place. Young persons, who are defined as being between 12 and 18 years of age, will be allowed to possess no more than five grams of legally obtained, dried cannabis.

In preparation for the Act coming into force, employers should review and amend their workplace policies and procedures to recognize that recreational use of cannabis will soon be legally permissible in Canada and to address any related workplace concerns, particularly with respect to safety sensitive workplaces and positions. Employers should also keep in mind that, while recreational use of cannabis may soon be legally permitted in Canada, the law does not authorize employees to be impaired at work nor give them the right to smoke cannabis in or near the workplace.

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Lawson Lundell's Labour and Employment Law Blog provides updates on the most recent legal developments impacting the Canadian workplace and offers practical tips for employers. We cover a range of topics, including labour relations, employment law, collective bargaining, human rights, employment standards, employment equity, workers' compensation, business immigration, privacy, occupational health and safety and pensions and employee benefits. 

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