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Cannabis and the Landscape Trades

February 27, 2019

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Cannabis and the Landscape Trades

The topic of cannabis has gotten a lot of attention both before and since its official legalization in Canada on October 17, 2018.  I have paid some attention to the issues around cannabis but mainly as a parent of teens and not as a business owner and operator.  Two encounters at the Landscape Ontario Congress led me to take a closer look.

A presentation entitled Legalization of Marijuana & Impact on Employers in the Landscape Industry given by Sundeep Gokhale of Sherrard Kutz LLP was part of the conference program at LOC.  It focuses on the legal aspects of marijuana use in the workplace.  The first section clarifies the law around:

  1. Using cannabis at work
  2. Medical cannabis at work, and
  3. Drug and alcohol testing

The second section focuses on developing and implementing workplace drug and alcohol policies that will ensure employers and employees have a mutual understanding of rules and procedures in place to protect and prevent against workplace incidents and the steps in place to deal with occurrences that do come up.  Even before legalization, 12.3% of Canadians reported being current marijuana users (Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, 2013).  The Ontario Ministry of Labour has a page on its website that explains the responsibilities of employers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act as they relate to workplace impairment.  Having a policy in place seems like the basics of good practice.  The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety provides a Guide to Writing an OHS Policy Statement.  Please consult with a lawyer to get advice specific to your situation.

This article in Landscape Trades highlights the importance of this issue to one owner of an Ontario based landscape company.  The risks associated with cannabis use on the job are too high to take any chances.

On a very different note, a discussion with an instructor at Fanshawe College’s Horticultural technician program highlighted the impact the developing cannabis industry has on the labour force.  As we are all aware, finding trained seasonal workers for nursery and landscaping work is an on-going challenge.  Now there is a competing employer in the picture.  Particularly in southwestern Ontario, sometimes known as the Green Belt, or the Cannabis Corridor, there are many cannabis growing operations that are hiring horticultural graduates. 

Fanshawe’s Sue Millar and three recent graduates spoke to the Londoner in “Pot industry changing local landscapes” and explained their decisions to take jobs in the cannabis industry.  These employers offer year-round employment and opportunities for advancement in an industry that many students see as innovative and exciting.  Though some graduates will prefer to stay with the traditional nursery and landscape trades, these new companies offer a compelling alternative.

Whether you are focused on the risks presented by cannabis in the workplace or the opportunities it represents, there is no denying there is a lot to consider.

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