With the passage of the Cannabis Act, unprecedented business opportunities await Canadian entrepreneurs as an industry shifts from black market to legal overnight. Along with those opportunities come unforeseen challenges across both the private and public sectors.

On the government side, marijuana remaining illegal at the federal level in America has caused major concerns about Canadian tourists heading south. Major compliance issues loom for dispensaries that have been operating in a legal gray area, while cities and provinces wrestle with specifically where marijuana can be legally smoked.

Public spaces, private cannabis lounge businesses, and even university dorm rooms are already becoming new battlegrounds for pro-cannabis activists seeking increased access.

It won’t just be colleges and universities coming up with new smoking policies, but also workplaces that will be forced to grapple with updating inebriation rules to cover marijuana as the October 17 legalization date approaches.

According to a report from CBC, businesses of all sizes across the nation are unsure of how to deal with the possible issues of employee impairment due to marijuana usage. Many of those businesses are currently scrambling to seek clarification on HR practices for dealing with legalization.

Jamie Jurczak, a lawyer in Winnipeg who advises employers on cannabis rules, recently discussed the challenges of legalized marijuana with CBC by stating: “For the most part, we have a really solid understanding of how alcohol works. With cannabis, we don’t.”

He went on to add, “There’s no way of saying, ‘Well, here’s a hard-and-fast test where we can say yes you’re impaired right now or no, you’re not.’ That is the challenge of cannabis. That is the gray area, and that is what’s posing the biggest issue for, I would say, employers who are going to have deal with this in the workplaces.”

Each business will need to come up with its own rules for impairment affecting work performance, as well as decide on allowances for employee medical use versus recreational consumption.

Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Manitoba (CPHRM), an association focused on HR practices and training, will hold a training session next month to specifically address those new policies.

CPHRM CEO Ron Gauthier commented in the report: “Each organization has to look at its own situation and its own uniqueness, and create a policy that works for them and supports their culture and their guiding principles as well.”

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