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Marijuana and Workplace Safety Series I

Marijuana and Workplace Safety Series I

So, the new Cannabis Act is set to come into effect soon. What do we know about Cannabis/Marijuana and once it becomes legalized, is it a license to light up and smoke up? And oh! Do we then begin to talk about Cannabis/Marijuana breaks!

What does this mean in relation to Workplace Safety and Health?

First thing first, no information provided here should be regarded as legal advice or absolute. For more information, please check out

Roots– What is Marijuana: Marijuana is the dried leaves flowers, stem, seeds from the plant known as Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indicia Plant. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most studied component of cannabis and is the chemical responsible for the psychoactive effect or “high”. Another key component, cannabidiol (CBD) may be useful in treating treatment-resistant epilepsy in children and adults. CBD does not produce a high. Some low THC strains have been used in patients with chronic pain who do not want the psychoactive effect. (Goldsmith et al., 2015) The flower of the cannabis plant can be made into a variety of products, including: dried herbal material (i.e., “marijuana”), oil (e.g., “hash oil”), hash (i.e., compressed resin), concentrates (e.g., “shatter”), or foods and beverages containing extracts of cannabis. (Government of Canada, 2015) Cannabis can also be ingested by pill form or in food, or absorbed through the skin via creams, salves, or skin patches.

Slang – Marijuana or Cannabis is also known as Weed, Pot, Mary-Jane, Ganja, Grass, Indian Hemp or in some cases, Spliff etc.

EffectsWhy can’t we just smoke Marijuana like Cigarettes? For starters it was against the law to just opt and smoke it without prescription for medical reasons. As Health Canada (2016a) states “Using cannabis or any cannabis product can impair your concentration, your ability to think and make decisions, and your reaction time and coordination. This can affect your motor skills, including your ability to drive. It can also increase anxiety and cause panic attacks, and in some cases cause paranoia and hallucinations.” These effects have been noted to last as long as 24 hours.

Marijuana and Safety– So, how is this related to Safety in the workplace? Canadian employers are required by law to ensure safety in the workplace, and there are several new challenges being introduced with the legalization of Marijuana. One of the foremost challenges is impairment while at work, operating machinery or carrying out duties that require attention/concentration, require alertness and not endanger self or others in the workplace.

Remember, you always have a choice, but only you can decide to do it the safe way. The safe way is usually not the shortest or quickest way, but it’s your decision.
Every reasonable precaution should be taken to protect yourself and promote our ZERO ACCIDENTS culture.
Be Safe!

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