Case Study on Medicinal Cannabis
We are getting more and more calls from clients unsure how to navigate the issue of medicinal cannabis in their workplace. While their policy may be very clear that THC (cannabis/marijuana) is an illicit substance and as such prohibited from the workplace, it is often not so clear on the medicinal use of cannabis.
The problem they face is “What do you do when your Drug and Alcohol policy says that cannabis (marijuana) is prohibited, but an employee declares that they are using medicinal cannabis prescribed by their doctor?”
Our advice is to first check your policy for guidance on handling prescription and pharmacy medicines at work. Medicines can be impairing so they should be included in any AOD policy. Medicinal cannabis can be legally prescribed in Australia and New Zealand by a doctor. It is potentially impairing and so you need to address the issue the same way you handle any other impairing medicine such as strong painkillers or some ADHD medicines. In general, it is recommended that any worker taking medicinal cannabis not drive or operate heavy machinery.
Medicinal cannabis is still experimental for most conditions, so it is highly regulated by health authorities. The employee should have a valid prescription and it should have been supplied by an Australian pharmacy. It cannot be bought online from overseas and recreational sources (eg ‘weed” or hashish) cannot be substituted.
The next step we suggest is to discuss the issue with the employee in the context of their fitness for work. Perhaps some advice from their doctor can help clarify things.
Lastly, consider revising your drug and alcohol policy. It might be prudent to reword that section of your policy that talks about prohibited drugs to reflect that the illicit use of THC is prohibited at work. However, medicinal cannabis must be declared, just as other impairing medications must be declared.
At DASA, we have developed medicinal cannabis fact sheets in pdf and video format. If you would like to know more, get in touch today on 1300 230 231 or via email to email@example.com
DASA (Drug and Alcohol Solutions Australia) is proud to be leading the way in workplace drug and alcohol testing services throughout Australia. Whether your need is for workplace drug and workplace alcohol testing, advice on drug and alcohol policy or ideas on how to communicate your workplace expectations, policies and procedures to your staff, DASA can help. We have the experience, technical expertise and people to lead you to the right solution.