Business 'potline' aims to answer questions about marijuana legalization

The St. John's Board of Trade has set up a new phone line that business owners can call to ask questions about the impending legalization of cannabis.

Questions include how to deal with an employee who uses medical marijuana

Are you a business owner or landlord with questions about the impending legalization of cannabis? Now there's a phone number to call for just that. (Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

The St. John's Board of Trade has set up a new phone line for business owners with questions about the impending legalization of marijuana.

The Cannabis Hotline is a resource for small businesses with concerns about pot and the workplace, and for property owners who want to clarify the rules for renters.

St. John's Board of Trade CEO Nancy Healey. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

According to board CEO Nancy Healey, calls to the hotline so far have included questions from landlords wondering about rules around their tenants smoking and growing pot, and questions from employers about how to test for marijuana-impaired workers.

"We want to be known as the go-to place for businesses, to help them with whatever pain points they have," she told the St. John's Morning Show.

"We don't have all of the answers, but we do have experts in our membership and we can connect them with people in labour standards or government — whoever it may be."

Lack of clear rules

With regards to the landlord questions, the board of trade has assembled a committee of landlords and members of of the residential tenancies division of Service NL.

Those same people are also helping to develop regulations around pot and renting, according to Healey.

Healey said one of the most common topics they get calls about are from landlords who need clarification around tenants growing and smoking cannabis in their apartments. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Healey said the owners of small businesses are especially concerned with the lack of clear rules around cannabis and the workplace, which is a big reason why the BOT stepped in to try and offer some help.

"They don't have an HR department or an occupational health and safety person," she said. "So how do they know if an employee is intoxicated or if they have a prescription for medical marijuana?"

With such a hodgepodge of issues to address, the BOT is also looking across the country to try and identify national norms and standards which could emerge in the early days of cannabis legalization.

National trends

Many issues, like that of testing impaired drivers, are still being worked out so those who answer calls at the hotline will do their best to be informed of best practices across the country and how they could be regulated in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"A lot of employers have zero tolerance, but how do you test to determine if someone is intoxicated by marijuana?" Healey said.

"That is a huge concern we've had and as far as we know there hasn't been a precise or standard test to determine that."

More information on the Cannabis Hotline can be found on the BOT's website.

With files from St. John's Morning Show