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"We Don't Provide Training on Alcohol Impairment in the Workplace - Why Would We Treat Cannabis & Workplace Safety Differently?"

Mon, 09/10/2018

First off, I’d like to say that I believe providing education around alcohol impairment and its impact on the workplace would be a great initiative – maybe one we should all be reconsidering.  Maybe cannabis legalization will force us to reassess the education (or lack thereof) regarding impairment (in general) we have been providing within our organizations.  When the prohibition of alcohol came to an end, we were hardly in an era that coveted the safety of workers.  Without question, safety systems and protocols were not then what they are now.  And, in our time, it seems like the consumption of alcohol has been around since the beginning of time – completely normalized.  So, it may very well be that we never genuinely considered whether we were adequately educating our workforces on the subject since the topic is so commonplace.  If your organization isn’t providing training on alcohol impairment in the workplace, maybe you should rethink that position.

Secondly, and maybe what I find most frustrating about a statement like this, it suggests that an organization must be sold on the importance of training.  It is not an outside party’s role to convince an organization that the provision of education in the name of protecting its people is important.  The effort and time invested into training is entirely up to each organization.  They must decide what level of detail regarding education on one topic or another is sufficient in ensuring their legal responsibilities as an employer and assures a reasonable amount of due diligence that will afford the workforce a comprehensive knowledge of the subject matter, so they may protect themselves and others.  It’s always a worthwhile conversation to discuss why educating on a specific topic is particularly important – but having to justify the importance of education and training, as a whole, is not a discussion worth its time.  Waging an argument against education is quite a difficult position to defend – not only because it is contrary to public opinion, but also in the eyes of the law.  Not to mention what impact that stance will have on workplace morale.

Lastly, it’s a broken record, my saying this, but it bears repeating – cannabis is not comparable to alcohol.  They are two different substances, with their own unique characteristics.  Therefore, they should be treated uniquely.  A perceived familiarity and understanding of one does not qualify your knowledge of the other.  However, I will grant that cannabis and alcohol are about to share a similar category, in that they will both be legal – come October 17th.  But don’t allow this to make you believe that cannabis impairment will have the same impacts on the workplace as alcohol impairment.  They are unique substances, each with their own set of unique hazards.  Understanding what makes cannabis unique is an integral step in planning for success and safety post-legalization.