Business owners discussed how to deal with the legalization of cannabis within their workplaces during an Algonquin Gateway Business Association (AGBA) meeting Feb. 20.

The meeting, held at the South Algonquin Diner in Wilberforce, centred around how business owners could handle employees impaired by cannabis. It featured an OPP drug recognition officer and speakers from Peninsula, a consultant company which offers HR and health and safety support for small businesses.

AGBA board member Barbara Kraus said it was important to educate the organization’s members on cannabis.

“Since the cannabis issue is relatively recent and most of us don’t have any experience with the new laws, we thought it was an important item as we head into the (summer) season,” Kraus said.

Haliburton Highlands OPP Const. Kevin Brown, a drug recognition officer, detailed different types of cannabis and how business owners could identify signs of people under its effects. He noted symptoms to look for, such as bloodshot eyes, paranoia and disorientation.

Brown also said although OPP could charge someone for breaking laws around cannabis, a business owner is limited if they do not have a proper cannabis policy. “

If you wanted to let that individual go, unless you have policies and procedures in place, kind of hooped on that,” Brown said.

Peninsula’s Tracey Harvey presented on how businesses should implement cannabis into their contracts and policies.

“As employers, you have more control over this situation with cannabis in the workplace than you probably think you do,” Harvey said. “You have the right to put together policies that protect your workers and your workplace.”

Harvey said although employers are not trained sobriety officers, they can look for symptoms to help support workplace cannabis policy. She said such policies should be clear and signed off by employees.

“You can put the limit on where you want to put it so long as it’s communicated in advance,” she said.

She added confronting someone you suspect of being cannabis impaired should be done in private to protect privacy. But a witness should also be present to observe, she said.

AGBA board member Linda Middleton said she was happy with the approximately 20-person turnout.

“It went really well, when you get a good response, a good question period,” she said. “Part of the success was we had the legal side here and we also had the business side here,” Kraus added. “That gave us all a perspective on what we do to make cannabis policies fly”

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