Cannabis concerns covered at Chamber meeting

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Added: Wed, 11/07/2018 - 2:49pm
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Deborah Powell

SHAWVILLE – The Pontiac Chamber of Commerce held their annual general meeting at the Little Red Wagon Winery, October 25, featuring guest speaker Tyler Pirie on the timely topic of cannabis.
Treasurer Larry Coleman summarized a quick review of business prior to Pirie’s speech. “We have no debts and there's money in the bank. Membership revenue has already exceeded last year's,” he reported. Mireille Alary agreed to remain president for another term.
Pirie has worked with several high-profile national organizations on important projects about substance use and mental health.
He began with an overview of the main components and effects of cannabis, its
popularity and user demographics. Concentrating on the aspects most relevant to employers, he mentioned short-term effects such as difficulty concentrating and loss of coordination. Québec has the lowest rate of cannabis use in Canada, with 10% of the population over the age of 15 using the substance compared to a 14% national average.
While the bill legalizing cannabis is federal legislation, it is up to the provinces to figure out how to implement it, since health is a provincial domain. One example of provincial differences is legal age. Set at 18 federally, all provinces except Alberta and Québec chose 19 as the legal age, with those two provinces setting it at 18 years.
The newly elected Québec government has promised to raise it to 21.
“Having a substance use policy is a good idea, even in a small business,” asserted Pirie. “You can require your workers not be under the influence when in the workplace, although testing is problematic at this point, and [you can] request additional information regarding their use of medical marijuana.
It's an employer's duty to ensure safety in the workplace and well-communicated,
clear policies, tailored to each workplace are the best approach,” he said.
“The use of cannabis in any safety-sensitive position, including the health
sector, must be examined,” said Pirie. “And what about the Christmas party? Are you going to allow cannabis use there?” he continued, noting there are a number
of implications employers may not have thought about yet, and he reminded the audience of an employer's “duty to accommodate” substance dependency of
any kind.
Pirie wrapped up with a summary of key takeaways: just because cannabis is legal does not mean it is safe; use is not limited to a specific group and it is difficult to detect use; employers have rights, but they also have responsibilities; and a comprehensive workplace policy is an employer's best line of defense.
In conclusion, MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller said the MRC is working with the Sûreté du Québec to develop a bylaw for all 18 municipalities.