Cannabis and Your Restaurant

Oct 22, 2018 bcrfauser01

There are a lot of questions about the recent legalization of recreational cannabis and the impact on our industry. The BCRFA has been researching the issue in order to provide you with answers to the most frequently asked questions.

  1. Do I have to allow employees to smoke pot while they are at work?

No. Recreational cannabis is an intoxicant. Employees are not allowed to drink alcohol at work and they are not allowed to smoke cannabis. As the employer, you are entitled to have strongly worded policy that prohibits employees from reporting to work intoxicated on any substance and prohibiting use of any intoxicant while on shift or on their break.

  1. What do I do if the employee tells me they need to use cannabis for medical reasons?

You have the duty to accommodate an employee’s disability. Medical marijuana must be dealt with in the same manner as any prescribed medication. You are entitled to expect your employee to provide you with a letter from their Doctor stating they need medical marijuana for a health condition, and describing the frequency of use required for the medical condition. There is a limit to an employer’s duty to accommodate an employee’s disability however. It may not be possible to accommodate an employee, depending on the work they do. In a busy environment with spill, burn and slip hazards, it may not be safe for the employee to use an intoxicant while at work. If this situation arises, the BCRFA is here to help and guide you.

  1. Can employees bring cannabis to work to sell to other employees?

No. It’s illegal for private individuals to sell cannabis anywhere. Legalization means all cannabis must be sold through government licensed outlets.

  1. What can I do if an employee reports for work and I suspect they have been using cannabis?

The law allows you to send employees home if they report for work but appear to be in an unfit state to perform work. Worksafe BC requires you to remove an employee from the work place if they are intoxicated as they could be a danger to themselves and others. While it is unlikely a zero tolerance policy can be enforced over a legal substance used recreationally by adults, you can enforce a policy of no intoxication on any substance while at work.

  1. I have a liquor license. Do I have to worry about serving people who have been using cannabis at my bar or restaurant?

It is an issue you need to be aware of. In 2008, in Ontario, a licensed establishment was fined heavily for serving liquor to customers who had been smoking cannabis and were clearly intoxicated. You have a duty to stop serving alcohol to anyone who appears in any way intoxicated by any substance and to assure they don’t drive. You and your employees need to be trained to recognize cannabis intoxication. This training is available from GO2HR as an adjunct to the Serving in Right program. If you have an outdoor area where smoking is allowed, be aware which customers are smoking cannabis. If these people show any sign of intoxication, they should not be served liquor and be prevented from driving.

If you have any questions or are facing any issues about cannabis or any other human resource or government regulation question, the BCRFA is available to assist you. We have an experienced HR expert and government regulation expert on our team. Contact Gillian McGregor at 604 505 2374 or gmacgregor@bcrfa.com