Cannabis at Work

Support grows globally for cannabis legalization

Marijuana legalization has become a trend, as of late. This new global view has mainly been powered by shifts in public opinion, which increasingly show support for legalization. Cannabis legalization might also mean an increase in cannabis use, which may also mean an increase in cannabis use at the workplace.

For the most part, legalization follows a common path: First, cannabis is legalized for medical purposes, then this is followed by recreational legalization. The support for medical marijuana is very high, globally, and can be attributed to graphic images of people struggling with various ails like epilepsy, who would be better off with access to medical marijuana.

Although many countries have an increasingly favorable public perception of the drug, policy makers are still sitting on the fence, probably holding out to observe the any long-term ramifications of cannabis legalization in regions where such has already taken place.

Policies, though, don’t end at the government level. Businesses must also address these policy issues in an effort to tackle cannabis use in the workplace. Several considerations come into play for such a question, including whether or not the respective government even allows for such regulation.

It is thus important to consider the country’s laws, before considering workplace policies. Here’s a look at countries with favorable marijuana laws.


Cannabis world
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Which countries have now legalized Cannabis?

  • Armenia: Marijuana laws have been relaxed to allow those caught with small amounts to be let off the hook by paying mere administrative fines.
  • Australia: Possession only attracts a fine in the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and Northern Territory.
  • Bangladesh: The use of marijuana is not regulated by any law
  • Belgium: Possession of amounts under 5 grams have been decriminalized, with public smoking banned.
  • Brazil: Offenders are punished only by drug treatment and fines.
  • Chile: Possession of amounts under 5 grams have been decriminalized, while it’s still illegal to buy or sell
  • Colombia: Legal to possess under 20 grams.
  • Czech Republic: Decriminalized.
  • Ecuador: Legal to possess a maximum of 10 grams.
  • Estonia: Legal to possess small quantities but you may be punished with a fine or administrative arrest (no incarceration).
  • Germany: The drugs will only be confiscated without any prosecution.
  • Italy: Decriminalized.
  • Jamaica: Decriminalized.
  • Mexico: Legal to possess small quantities.
  • Netherlands: The drug is completely legal to use and sell in Amsterdam, but only legal for personal use in the rest of the country, with the possibility of getting confiscated by the police.
  • North Korea: Decriminalized.
  • Paraguay: Legal to possess under 2 grams.
  • Peru: Legal to possess up to 8 grams.
  • Portugal: Legal to possess up to 25 grams.
  • Russia: Possession of amounts under 6 grams is regarded only as an “administrative violation”.
  • Spain: Decriminalized.
  • Switzerland: Legal to possess under 10 grams.
  • United States: Legal in 33 states, with other states relaxing prohibition laws and currently deliberating new laws that legalize recreational and/or medical marijuana.
  • Uruguay: Legal.


How have these countries dealt the use of Cannabis in the workplace?

In places where employees can obtain medical marijuana permits, or are allowed to use recreational marijuana, employers may be faced with the dilemma of regulating the use of marijuana in the work place.


Cannabis at work
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Just as is the case with alcohol, the legalizing cannabis doesn’t deprive employers the right to impose policies that prohibit intoxication at the work place. In many places where medical and recreational marijuana is legal, employers are allowed to schedule drug tests, and determine what measures will be used to address positive drug test results.


What's the best way for governments to deal with Cannabis at work?

Although some governments allow employers to adopt employment policies that prohibit marijuana use, many governments have totally refrained from interfering with human resource management policies concerning marijuana use at work.

For instance, in Ohio, employers are allowed to implement any “zero tolerance drug policy”. But until last year in Maine, employers were prohibited from terminating the employees for using marijuana on the business premises. However, that policy has since been overturned to allow for employers to restrict marijuana use and take disciplinary measures.


Final words

Employers in places where marijuana use is legal must familiarize themselves with the law and any accompanying governmental policies. This need for caution can be exacerbating in cases where employees with certain medical conditions have medical marijuana permits to use the drug at anytime for their ailments. On the other hand, it’s up to the discretion of the employers to determine whether it’s proper for employees to become intoxicated at work, whether for medical or recreational purposes. These views, in reality, are quite conflicting, leading to even greater needs for clear governmental policies regarding workplace cannabis use, in an effort to guide businesses on the topic.