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Air Canada Says ‘No’ to Sanctioning Cannabis Use For Workers

Air Canada has a policy in place on cannabis use ahead of Oct. 17.

Approximately two weeks away from when recreational cannabis in Canada is fully legalized, more employers are making usage policies known to their workers. One of which is Air Canada, which recently stated in no uncertain terms that their employees will not be allowed to light up whether on tarmacs, airports or on board.

Air Canada says it seeks primarily to keep passengers and workers safe.

In a statement submitted to Global News, executives at Air Canada noted they’re taking a no-tolerance policy for the time being in order to keep both passengers and workers as safe as possible.

“Employees working in safety-critical areas at the company, including flight operations and aircraft maintenance, will be prohibited from using cannabis and cannabis products at all times, both on-duty and off-duty,” the memo said. “We are acting out of an abundance of caution based on current understanding of the effects of these drugs, including their after-effects and the potential they can linger in the human system.”

First Country in North America to Legalize Recreational Use

On Oct. 17, Canada will officially give the all clear for Canadians to use cannabis for recreational purposes. It’s already legalized for medical use, and in expanding its allowance, Canada will join Belize, Jamaica, Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, and the Netherlands as the latest of the countries where both pharmaceutical and casual usage of marijuana is permitted by the federal government. According to Statistics Canada, nearly 50 per cent of self-professed regular users of cannabis in Canada spent approximately $250 on the product during the second quarter. Thirty-nine per cent of those who used it on a weekly or monthly basis spent between $1 and $100.

However, in the nation as a whole, only 16 per cent of Canadians have consumed cannabis over the last three months. As dispensaries prepare custom labels in anticipation of mid-October they’re trying to adequately determine how much product to carry, in light of the stance businesses are taking and the distinctions between regular users and those who have more or less dabbled.

Air Canada May Reverse Course

The Montreal-based airline stated through counsel that it holds the right to change its mind on not allowing cannabis consumption among employees, given the conclusions from studies on the stimulant’s long-term health effects are largely inconclusive.

“Especially since the science, as far as testing and determining the consequences, isn’t nearly as established as it is with alcohol,” labour lawyer Micah Kowalchuk told Global News.

He hastened to mention that virtually all businesses modified their cannabis usage policies when medical marijuana was legalized, but it’s unclear to what degree businesses will adjust them in the post Oct. 17 world.

Air Canada isn’t the only employer that’s been proactive about how it intends to deal with cannabis upon decriminalization. Earlier this year, the Calgary Police Service announced that all on-duty officers carrying handguns are not to consume cannabis, whether for medical or recreational purposes, Global News reported. However, according to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, employers are duty bound to accommodate the allowance for medical marijuana so long as workers have a prescription.

Dispensaries will need to be sure they adequately distinguish blank labels used for cannabis products so they’re clearly marked and attached with the appropriate barcode labels.

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