The legalization of cannabis for recreational use and the exponential growth of people using medicinal cannabis gives rise to challenges for employers and service providers, as well as opportunities for growers and producers.

Whether you are an employer dealing with cannabis in the workplace, a service provider encountering impaired customers, or a grower or producer expanding your workforce, Hicks Morley can help your organization navigate this evolving area.


Employers are increasingly faced with the prospect of having employees at work who have consumed cannabis in some form—either for recreational use or to treat a medical condition. While employers have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities who may consume medical cannabis, employers also have an obligation to ensure a safe workplace for everyone. Strict rules also apply regarding the use of recreational cannabis at work.

At Hicks Morley, we assist employers by:

  • advising on accommodation issues and workplace safety compliance
  • drafting substance use and abuse policies and advising on the legality of drug and alcohol testing
  • advising on required changes to drug and alcohol policies
  • advising on collective agreement interpretation, as well as collective bargaining around benefits coverage and drug and alcohol testing
  • providing representation in:
    • rights arbitrations, including grievances, around interpretation of collective agreement language and just cause termination related to impairment and benefits coverage
    • wrongful dismissal litigation as a result of impairment, benefits coverage litigation and human rights applications
    • response to human rights applications
  • training first-line supervisors and managers to deal with impairment, safe workplace obligations and accommodation issues

Service Providers

Hotels, restaurants, healthcare providers, landlords and other organizations offering services to the public wrestle with balancing the interests of their non-smoking clientele and medicinal cannabis users (be they employees or other customers). Among other things, we provide:

  • advice on understanding your legal requirements and obligations including dealing with impaired customers
  • advice on accommodation and preventing discrimination (to balance these issues with the prohibitions found in the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017)
  • advice on policy development/changes
  • representation in response to human rights applications
  • training of first-line supervisors and managers on discrimination and accommodation issues
  • training regarding the limitation applicable to recreational cannabis use

Growers and Producers

With the legalization of cannabis for recreational use, cannabis is big business. To meet the increasing demand, growers and producers experience rapid growth, expanding operations, acquiring new facilities and hiring additional employees, which in turn may give rise to human resources issues. As one of Canada’s leading labour and employment law firms, we can help your organization manage these issues. Our assistance includes:

  • drafting, structuring and reviewing employment contracts and policies
  • advising on minimum standards legislation compliance (hours of work and eating periods, overtime pay, public holidays and leaves of absence)
  • advising on the termination process
  • advising on compliance issues relating to occupational health and safety legislation
  • developing health and safety policies, advising on the enforcement of safety policies through discipline and training managers on their obligations

Coverage for Medical Cannabis under Ontario’s Workers’ Compensation System

The legalization of recreational cannabis, which came into effect on October 17, 2018, has raised many questions for employers about cannabis use in the workplace, as well as potential coverage of cannabis under benefit plans. In this video, Mariana Kamenetsky and Kathryn Meehan talk about coverage for medical cannabis under Ontario’s workers’ compensation system.

Cannabis in the Workplace: Workplace Policy

In this video, Jacqueline Luksha reviews key features of a Drug and Alcohol policy related to cannabis in the workplace. She also discusses the importance of training regarding cannabis use, and touches on policies dealing with accommodation requests. Note that this video was made before the Ontario Government introduced Bill 36, the Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018. See our update reviewing that bill.