Is Your Board & Executive Team Ready for Cannabis In / Around the Workplace?

By Doug Macnamara posted 10-17-2018 12:39

"Weed Wednesday" for Canada has arrived – and if you've been attending to the various media sources you will be aware that the distribution, policing and individual health management of the new reality is in different stages of preparedness! What will Cannabis look like in YOUR Organization?

How is your organization prepared to handle the legalization of cannabis consumption, and having cannabis in and around the workplace? This affects staff, visitors, customers, volunteers, tenants at properties you may own, and potentially has impact on the operational safety, infrastructure and social environment across your organization and possibly in multiple offices within different jurisdictions with different regulations.

At the Board-Governance Level

At the level of the Board, most organizations seem to be handling this issue by including cannabis in the Governance Policies related to:

1. Corporate Risks & Management Limitations; and/or

2. Board - CEO Interface - HR Policies

In the areas of Corporate Risks and Management Limitations, many organizations are addressing cannabis similar to alcohol and smoking in the workplace. As a result, they might be addressed through modifying their Governance Policies such as:

  • Code of Conduct/Ethics
  • Environmental Leadership/Sustainability/Compliance
  • Respectful Workplace
  • Occupational Health & Safety

Alternatively, you may wish to create its own policy for increased visibility. In addition, the Board would be wise to build this into their current and/or next Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) process and mitigation plan.

In the area of Board – CEO Interface & HR Policies, cannabis elements might find a place in such policies as:

  • CEO/Organizational Performance Management
  • Appropriate Business Expenses
  • Appropriate Client Entertainment

At the CEO & Executive Level

Practically speaking, most of addressing the new realities of cannabis in the workplace will occur at the operational level and in the hands of Management. This will include such things as:

  • Managerial messaging about performance expectations and responsible use of intoxicating substance before/during/after work
  • Appropriate business-related entertainment and social behaviours
  • Respect for one another and workplace etiquette
  • Attendance at conferences or while representing your organization outside the office
  • Zones for smoking and/or cannabis consumption

Many of the regulatory aspects of cannabis will create implications for the workplace, or worksite, and around the offices/buildings of the organization. Municipal and/or Provincial regulations are addressing, similar to tobacco use for example, how far away from a building entrance or restaurant, on sidewalks or even districts of towns/cities cannabis consumption is allowed. Management will need to ensure compliance in this regard – and in many ways, cannabis looks to have more stringent regulations than cigarette smoking.

From an enterprise-risk and care-for-employees standpoint, cannabis consumption will create particular concern about safety in and around machinery, employee travel, and within job sites that have traffic or high levels of activity. Many organizations with these environments have likely already dealt with this within a set of alcohol and drug operational policies, but it wouldn’t hurt to review your supervisory/managerial expectations with regards to cannabis.

The New Cannabis Legalization Can’t Be Ignored

Weed Wednesday is upon us, and while it may not be a catastrophic concern, it should be taken seriously. At the Board level this means ensuring cannabis consumption is covered in Governance Policy and the ERM process. For Executives, this means addressing staff supervisory/management expectations, updates to operational policies, and compliance protocols related to Municipal and/or Provincial legislation. You’ve got this, right?


About the Author

Doug Macnamara is the President of Banff Executive Leadership Inc., and one of Canada's top facilitators of Governance & Executive Leadership development, strategic retreats, and difficult multi-party issues exploration / resolution. With more than 30 years’ experience, he works with Boards / Executives from well-known companies, government departments, crown corporations, charities / NFP’s, and indigenous communities across Canada, in Silicon Valley of the USA, Asia / Australia, Europe and the Middle East. Doug is a Certified Management Consultant, Certified Human Resources Leader, holds a B.Sc. in Biochemistry, B.Ed. in Environmental / Adult Education, Outdoor Educator's & Employee Benefits Certificates, plus successfully completed Harvard’s Management & Leadership Graduate Education program. Doug was also host of radio show “Boardroom Plugged-In” on AM650 in Vancouver.