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Amendments to Cannabis Regulations Create More Questions for Employers

October 17th, 2019 is the next significant date in the ongoing process for the legalization of cannabis in Canada. Amendments made to Cannabis Regulations in June, now allow for licensed vendors to distribute cannabis edibles, oils, and tinctures, which have previously been illegal to sell. While these new products become legal in mid-October, retailers wishing to add them to their line of products have to wait sixty days, allowing products to be available for sale in December.

Why Amend the Regulations Now? 

Ever since cannabis for recreational use, was made legal in Canada, consumers have been wondering when cannabis edibles and other products would be made available for sale and distribution. A number of products have been circulated illegally amongst individuals as edibles have been a popular method of consuming the drug for years, but now regulation is coming to the market. 

“The amended regulations are the next step in our process to reduce the risks to public health and safety from edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals and displace the illegal market for these products in Canada. We are committed to working closely with the provinces and territories as well as industry in the weeks ahead to prepare for effective implementation of these new regulations.” -Bill Blair, the acting Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction

Through these new regulations, it is believed that illegal distribution will be reduced. The changes, however, mean employers and employees need to prepare. 

Impacts on Workplace Testing 

Testing for cannabis use has been a common practice in workplaces for quite some time. The legalization of cannabis in Canada last year increased testing processes and procedures to ensure all workers were fit for work, as more individuals chose to use cannabis. Now, the legalization of edibles, oils and tinctures will impact testing once again. Studies have found that it takes longer to feel the effects of cannabis when it is consumed and that the effects of the drug can last longer, as it takes time for the body to absorb it into the bloodstream. As everyone’s digestive system processes food and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) differently, it becomes much more difficult to determine how much time is needed for individuals to be safe for work. While cannabis that has been ingested can be detected by oral fluid and urine tests, the effects can extend from 12-24 hours or more. With inhaled cannabis the effects can begin to decrease in as little as three hours

Employers and employees should note that chocolate will impact testing as well. Chocolate cannabis brownies have historically been one of the most popular forms of edibles, but scientists have found that they can be the most misleading. THC, the main psychoactive component, is tested and reported in distributed edibles. It has been found, however, that chocolate skews the testing of these products. While it has yet to be determined why chocolate creates misleading test results in items containing THC, it is suggested that it hides the amount of THC that is present. In fact, the more chocolate that has been used in the product, the more the test results are impacted. Individuals who consume cannabis edibles containing chocolate, may in fact be consuming more THC than what has been identified on the label, creating a greater potential for excessive use and overdose. 

As the effects of ingested cannabis last longer, greater training and testing needs to be provided to ensure all employees are aware of the effects these products can have on the body, and to maintain a safe and healthy workforce. 

SureHire is a leader in Drug and Alcohol testing and offers Reasonable Suspicion training to help supervisors recognize substance abuse in the workplace before drug and alcohol abuse results in costs to the employer and becomes a preventable safety incident. If your workforce requires Drug and Alcohol testing, or you would like to learn about any of our services, give us a call or contact our team today