• Taking the High Road: the Federal Framework and Preparing for the Legalization of Marijuana
  • May 3, 2017 | Author: Jenna Kirk
  • Law Firm: Field Law - Calgary Office
  • On April 13, 2017, the federal government tabled two new cannabis related bills before Parliament, Bill C-45: An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts and Bill C-46: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. If approved, Canada would become the second country in the world to fully legalize recreational marijuana.

    Bill C-45 creates a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of dried and fresh cannabis, cannabis oil, as well as seeds and plants for personal cultivation. Specifically, Bill-45 seeks to:

    • Deter criminal activity by ensuring a legal supply is available for purchase;
    • Protect public health through strict product safety and quality requirements;
    • Restrict access and prohibit marketing to youth; and
    • Permit individuals over the age of 18 to:
      • Purchase cannabis from regulated distributors;
      • Grow up to 4 cannabis plants at home;
      • Carry up to 30 grams of legal dried cannabis (or its equivalent in non-dried form); and
      • Share up to 30 grams of legal dried cannabis (or its equivalent in non-dried form) with other adults.

    It should be noted that the sale of edible cannabis products is a very complex matter and as such it is not included in the proposed legislation. The federal government has indicated that the sale of edible cannabis products will remain illegal until such time as they are able to develop and publish regulations that will address the potential health and safety risks.
     
    As a result of the permissions granted by Bill C-45 and the difficultly in accurately testing for cannabis induced impairment, Bill C-46 was introduced to amend and strengthen Canada’s impaired driving legislation and provide defined legal limits for drug impairment. Under this proposed legislation, testing and prosecution would become easier in order to better protect the public from both alcohol and drug-impaired driving.
     
    While the federal government anticipates that this proposed legislation will come into force no later than July of 2018, much of the fine print will be left to the provincial and territorial governments. As such, these governments are now scrambling to develop policies and regulations relating to distribution, marketing, sale, use and workplace safety, as well as deal with jurisdictional issues relating to enforcement and penalties. Similarly, many employers are also taking proactive measures to prepare for the effect of the impending changes caused by this legislation on its workforce and workplace safety.

    As with alcohol, employers have the right to prohibit the use of marijuana during working hours, in the workplace and where further restrictions would be justified by the position (e.g. safety sensitive positions). Employers can take proactive steps without compromising their accommodation requirements or employment relationships.
     
    A starting point is to review and create workplace policies and procedures to address deficiencies. Additionally, employers should ensure the term drug is defined in its policies and procedures to specifically include cannabis, as it will no longer be included by the term illicit or illegal drugs.

    If you are interested in additional tips, tricks and insights regarding the legalization of marijuana, stay tuned for updates on our upcoming half-day seminar. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to receive email updates and event invitations relating to our
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