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Education on Cannabis & Workplace Safety as an Opportunity

Fri, 08/17/2018

The prohibition of cannabis has nearly been a century in length.  Changing the perceptions and attitudes around a belief that has been engrained in us over an entire generation (and then some) is no small task – and, even though, come October 17th, a switch will be immediately flipped on cannabis’ legality, the shift in opinion will be a slow burn.

I’d like to suggest, for the purpose of this article, that there are three schools of thought regarding cannabis legalization.  Full disclaimer – these are, of course, crude and high-level groupings.  It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that there are a variety of deviations within this groups and everywhere in between.  The groups I would like to suggest are:

  • Unapologetically in favour of legalization
  • Unapologetically opposed to legalization
  • Accepting of the change but cautious and concerned

Let me first state that, no matter what group you think you fit within most, legalization is happening.  So, whatever your feelings and thoughts may be, we will all have to abide within this cultural shift.  However, the groups matter because they will impact how each of us personally interprets our new reality.

If you fall within the “in favour” camp, without a doubt, you are most likely pleased to see the end of cannabis prohibition.  You may even be pushing for more freedom of use and less regulation.

Maybe you identify more with the “opposed” crowd.  If so, it goes without saying that you are not happy with the change and may even hope to see the decision repealed some day.

Or, you may consider yourself a moderate on the issue – you don’t have strong opinions for or against and all you really care is that things run smoothly, one way or the other.

Wherever your allegiances lie, we must, each of us, fend off our personal belief systems and realize that there is an opportunity to set a socially responsible example that, whatever our personal opinions may be, we won’t let them get in the way of or be prioritized above the well-being of people.

If you’re an employer who is against legalization – rant and rave at the living room tv screen as they discuss the topic.  But then, go to work and make the choice to put the safety of your employees above your opinions.  If you’re a supervisor who is a supporter of legalization and you can’t stand when people put cannabis-use in a negative light, make the choice to contribute to a positive cultural shift by ensuring no one under your supervision is injured because of workplace impairment.  And, if you don’t have a strong opinion on legalization, make the choice to have strong opinions in support of workplace safety.

There may never be an abolishment of a prohibited substance like this again.  And even if there is, it will not garner as much attention as this – since this legalization will become the precedent for decriminalization.  As this is such a rare occurrence, there’s a lot of opportunity to take the lead and stand out from competition.  Within this narrow window where there is a seemingly endless amount of buzz surrounding the topic – articles and features on cannabis legalization in the news every single day – there is a chance at garnering positive press for your business.  The media is making it known who is taking a proactive approach in preparation for this change.  Taking steps to show that your organization intends to plan for a success case post-legalization will make you a shoe-in for public praise – printed on newspaper pages and projected onto living room television screens.  It’s our hope that more people choose this option, instead of doing nothing (or not enough) and catching negative press down the road when they do not know how to properly handle workplace impairment scenarios or someone in their organization gets injured as a result of off-duty cannabis use.

See the bigger picture.  Don’t interpret education on cannabis and workplace safety as something you are legally required to provide (even though it is).  Interpret it as something you want to provide, not only because it is the right thing to do for your workforce, but because it is a humungous opportunity to draw positive attention to your business.  If you want to lead the industry and leave your competition behind, now is the time.  Ensure your organization is comprehensively prepared for the legalization of cannabis through education.