The rapid and significant changes to the legal status of marijuana in Canada raise new questions and challenges for employers across the country. In Ontario, some of these questions were answered when Bill 174, Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017 received Royal Assent on December 12, 2017.

Bill 174 is provincial legislation that regulates, for the first time, the cultivation, sale, distribution and consumption of both medical and non-medical marijuana in Ontario. Bill 174 was drafted to support Ontario’s transition to the federal legalization of marijuana that is anticipated by July 1, 2018.

For employers, the most meaningful implications of Bill 174 are:

  1. The consumption of non-medical marijuana is prohibited in any public place or workplace, defined as any land, premises, location or thing at, upon, in or near which a worker works. Non-medical marijuana use will thus continue to be illegal outside of a private dwelling—including any workplace. This restriction does not apply to consumers of medical marijuana who have a prescription from an authorized health care practitioner.
  2. Every employer must ensure that no person smokes or holds lighted medical marijuana in an enclosed workplace or other area over which the employer exercises control. This prohibition applies equally to vaporizers, e-cigarettes and any related product. Medical marijuana consumers may therefore only smoke or vaporize while outside. Further, every employer must post any prescribed signs respecting the prohibitions throughout the enclosed workplace, place or area, including washrooms.

The above changes, among others implemented by Bill 174, come into force on a future date to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.