Is medical marijuana acceptable in the workplace?

Medical marijuana use continues to grow in Canada which has led to questions about whether it's appropriate to take it at work.

Legal issues prohibit using weed at work under certain circumstances

Concerns over marijuana in the workplace linger as more Canadians register as medical users. (Getty Images)

Medical marijuana use continues to grow in Canada which has led to questions about whether it's appropriate to take it at work.

"There's still a lot of stigmatization out there," said employment lawyer David Whitten.  

"A lot of people are basing their thoughts and ideas on movies that came out in the '80s. We've come a long way since then and it's recognized just like any other medication," Whitten told CBC Radio.

Although Whitten said employers need to be more flexible when it comes to allowing workers to use weed at work, he does acknowledge there are occasions when an employer can ask a worker not to take their medicine.

"If somebody's in a safety sensitive position and there is medical evidence that their abilities are compromised by the use of medical marijuana, then an employer may be able to justify taking a position that that person can't smoke here because they are going to endanger their colleagues."

There are also legal restrictions prohibiting using marijuana on the job. It is illegal to operate heavy machinery or a vehicle under the influence of anything.

Health Canada states that dried marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada:"The Government of Canada does not endorse the use of marijuana, but the courts have required reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana when authorized by a physician."

The department estimates that the number of Canadians registered to use medical marijuana will increase to half a million in 10 years.

To hear more, click the audio labelled: Weed in the workplace.

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