Marijuana and the Workplace

The use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes is legal in Canada.  If you are an employer who is concerned about how to approach marijuana use by employees, here are some relevant suggestions and information:

  • Employers have a duty to accommodate employees with disabilities, up to the point of undue hardship to the employer. This may include an employee’s use of medical marijuana as treatment for a disabling condition, or an employee’s substance addiction (this applies to substances other than marijuana too).
  • Zero tolerance policies may not be enforceable.  A zero-tolerance policy could be discriminatory against an employee who uses marijuana for medical reasons related to a disability. However, a zero-tolerance policy may stand where sobriety is a bona fide occupational requirement, such as in safety-sensitive workplaces.
  • Have a clear drug policy that treats medical marijuana like other prescriptions (which can also cause impairment).  The policy can also define what it means to be “impaired.”  Some forms (or doses) of marijuana use may be consistent with an employee being able to fulfil their job duties.
  • Employer drug testing policies need to be kept up to date.  A clear method of determining impairment is not yet available, but testing technology is advancing and the law in this area is developing.  All drug-related policies should be reviewed regularly.

In one case, the employer’s drug and alcohol policy required all employees to disclose any dependency or addiction issues.  Workers who did disclose would be offered treatment, but workers who did not disclose would be fired if they were involved in an accident and tested positive for drugs or alcohol.  The worker was fired after he was involved in an accident with a front end loader and then tested positive for cocaine use.  In a human rights claim, the employee argued he was fired due to his drug addiction, which would be discriminatory. The court upheld the firing, because the employee had not disclosed his drug use to the employer as the policy required.  The court agreed with the employer that the employee was fired for violation of the policy, which was not discriminatory because he was capable of complying with the policy.  This is an example of how having appropriate employee policies for drug use can help an employer.

Employee use of drugs such as marijuana is not the only area of employment law that is changing, so employee policies require regular review and updating.  Contact Beacon Law Centre to discuss your current employee policies, or to create a new employee policy manual.


I just wanted to extend my thanks for your absolutely first class service. When we were purchasing our home, as you know, we had many obstacles to overcome and actually thought in the last two days that our deal might not go through. It was a very stressful time in our lives and I want you to know that we’ll always appreciate your calm, caring, professional manner and how you made us feel at ease and that it would all work out because we had you representing us.

You and the rest of your team are awesome, and this is why I will continue to refer you to anyone I know who needs legal representation. As a realtor being able to refer my clients to someone who I know without a doubt will provide them with the best legal advice and service adds to my confidence in terms of the overall service I am providing.

You have, in essence become a key element of my business team and I look forward to building on what is already a successful business relationship.”


Lianne, thank you so much for your excellent work on our conveyance. Your extra work helped save us thousands of dollars.

Dear Mr. Elgersma, I want to thank you and your team for all your help during my recent sale in Victoria. My lawyer here in Ontario was very impressed by your fee and said it was a very good deal in his experience. Thank you very much.


I recently had the experience of selling my condo. As I am not in the habit of frequently buying and selling my home I find the whole process a bit unnerving. To add to my unfamiliarity with home transactions, I was due to be out of the country on the completion date of my sale. Needless to say this was somewhat worrisome to me.

I hired Del to handle the legal transaction of my sale. What a great decision this turned out to be. Del and I got together a week prior to my trip and completed the necessary paperwork. There are a lot of papers to sign when selling a home and Del took the time to explain each document to me and answered all the questions I had. He then assured me that he had everything he needed in order to handle the transaction in my absence.

Del had explained everything so clearly to me and made me feel so at ease about the process that I felt completely comfortable leaving my legal interests in his hands while I was off vacationing. This made quite an impression on me as I have never felt comfortable leaving my fate in the hands of others, especially the likes of lawyers!

Previously I would have worried about everything going smoothly on the actual day of my home sale but to my delight and surprise on the completion date of this sale I laid in my hammock and drank champagne in the sunshine celebrating with complete confidence that the transaction would be handled just fine. I returned home only to have my suspicions confirmed . . .yes, in my absence, money had been quietly deposited to my account!

Thank you Del for allowing me to let go of the stress and worry around this large, important and infrequent type of event in my life.


Over the past year Lianne Macdonald has provided excellent legal advice to my real estate clients. I am always impressed with the quality of her services, as well as the care shown by Lianne and her staff. Lianne is always available if I have any questions or concerns. Her sound advice and legal counsel has greatly helped me in difficult and unusual situations. Lianne Macdonald is a proactive lawyer, an honest and caring person and a trusted friend. Without hesitation, I would recommend Lianne’s services to others, and will continue to use her service where they pertain.