Highs and Lows: Cannabis Legalization Doesn’t Mean You Can Be High at Work


On October 17, 2018, the recreational use of cannabis was decriminalized.

For several years before that, I spoke at conferences to address extensive fears that decriminalization would lead to rampant drug use and impairment at work.

For several months since then, I have spoken at conferences and in the media and commented that contrary to those widespread fears, the sky has not fallen (see this article, for example). We have not seen a demonstrable increase in the number of incidents of cannabis use or impairment at work.

Interestingly, the Toronto Star recently published an article entitled Half a million Canadians used weed before or at work: National Cannabis Survey, in which they reported that according to the latest National Cannabis Survey:

  • Roughly 500,000 Canadians used cannabis before — or at — work since February;

  • Around 21.5% of Albertans aged 15 and older — roughly 750,000 people — reported using cannabis in some form over the last three months;

  • The national average is 18%;

  • Last May, it was closer to 14%;

  • Around 646,000 Canadians tried weed over the last three months — and half are aged 45 or older; and

  • Daily cannabis use hasn’t changed, but weekly and “occasional” use went up.

So does this mean that my comments were premature, or failed to recognize the reality of the situation since the decriminalization of cannabis? Some will argue that the study shows that a significant number of people are now using cannabis while on the job or shortly prior to going to work. It is not an epidemic by any stretch of the imagination, but it is important for individuals (and employers) to bear one important fact in mind:

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