I spoke to Ken Krupat, a lawyer specializing in employment issues, and he told me that when medical marijuana is used to treat a disability – as it usually is – then a trucking company would have to accommodate said driver to the point of “undue hardship” or risk violating their human rights. This could mean providing a driving schedule that allows them to take medical marijuana as needed while off-duty and drive only when the drug has left their system (good luck with that!) or offering them another position within the company.
As you can see, this has the potential to get very, very dicey, especially if family doctors are willing to prescribe pot for any ol’ malady. I also spoke to Ron Marzel, a lawyer specializing in Canada’s cannabis laws. He agreed the user’s rights are protected. He went so far as to say it may even be up to the employer to determine whether or not the user is impaired after taking cannabis.
“For some people it can be impairing,” he said. “It’s very unique to the individual. For some people, the use of medical cannabis can be impairing and they shouldn’t be driving. For some people, however, it’s not impairing and there have even been court cases where the courts have said, ‘Yes, this person was consuming cannabis, however based on the evidence they weren’t impaired – they were perfectly functional.’ So it’s a very tricky area for both employers and employees…If they terminate somebody or don’t give them a job simply because they use medical cannabis, that could be a violation of that individual’s human rights and the employer could find a human rights suit or complaint filed against them.”
Check out our comprehensive coverage of this developing issue in the July Truck News. In the meantime, you can read about the case that spawned all this coverage and discussion here. And by the way, Patti is filing a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, so stay tuned. And if you want more pot talk, check out the Worth Repeating section, in which a former professional driver – and safety advisor – discusses why he uses medical marijuana. Would he hire a user to drive his trucks? His answer may surprise you.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies