Horizon - Sept 2017 - EN

The level of physical and mental effects of Marijuana, independent of type and delivery method, depend mostly on the volume of inhalation, the concentration of the THC, and level of experience the user has with the substance. Cannabinoids influence various neurotransmitters in the central nervous system which govern both motor and cognitive physiological functions. Some of its effects include: • A distorted perception of time and space • Increased relaxation • Increased euphoria • A reduction in reaction and movement time • Interference with memory and the ability to divide attention Higher doses have often resulted in elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased anxiety or fear, and enhanced appetite. Infrequent or moderate user may only experience the above affects for a short-time, but the chronic consumption of Marijuana has been associated with longer- term durations such as reduced memory, motor function, the increased risk of respiratory dysfunction, depression and anxiety. WORKPLACE SAFETY CONCERNS One of the most obvious occupational health and safety concerns is the ability to recognize how physical effects of marijuana can impair an individuals’ performance during critical tasks. To date, there are few processes in place to deal with job site safety regarding marijuana. Drug testing can detect if someone has used marijuana in the last 24-48 hours, but it can’t determine levels of intoxication – a major issue when the substance in questions has such a large variance of effects on the individual. we do not currently have a reliable measure for impairment when it comes to the use of marijuana. And without a reliable method for the detection of impairment the legalization of marijuana poses a significant risk to the occupational health and safety of Canadians. When managing the occupational risks associated with the legalization of medical marijuana it will be critically important for employers to stay informed and work closely with their occupational health and safety (OHS) provider to support the development or update of workplace alcohol and drug policies. As the majority of the recreational marijuana issues that an employer could face have not yet been litigated, the level of vulnerability for workplace safety is dangerously high. The core of the problem for organizations today is that

On July 1st 2018 the recreational use of marijuana will be legalized and, at present, many employers understand very little of how this may affect the performance and/or safety of their employees. Marijuana use has been shown to present both short-term and long-term effects on the physical and mental capacities of individuals. These effects may vary significantly from one person to the next, but one thing we know for sure is that safety sensitive occupations will be vulnerable upon legalization. This presents a number of complex issues for employers across Canada. Since all employers are responsible to provide a safe workplace, it is also their responsibility to understand the substance, its effects on individuals, the regulations around its usage, and most importantly, to assure that Alcohol & Drug Policies are up to date and ready for the upcoming shift. MARIJUANA 101 So, how can we predict how Canadians will interact with Marijuana once its recreational use is legalized? Currently, marijuana is themost commonly used psychoactive substance around the globe. In 2013 it was estimated that 182 million people used Marijuana for non-medical purposes. Canadians are among the highest users of cannabis and it is the most commonly used illicit drug in Canada. Recent data from Health Canada shows that by the end of March 2017 over 167,000 Canadians had signed up with a licensed marijuana producer – a significant increase from the 98,000 people registered at the end of September 2016. If the growth in medical marijuana in Canada is any indication of the potential boom in recreation marijuana then we could be looking at an increase of over 70% within a year of legalization. At its basis marijuana is a plant substance comprised of chemicals called cannabinoids. One cannabinoid in particular, Delta Nine Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is thought to be the most psychoactive property and is often expressed as a percentage per dry weight to measure potency. Most often, marijuana is smoked by users resulting in a rapid transfer of THC from the lungs into blood circulation. Once used the effects of Marijuana often present within minutes and slowly dissipate over a number of hours. However, some studies suggest it could take closer to a week for all of the physical and/or mental symptoms to subside. At present, there is no reliable chemical test that can detect the level of impairment due to marijuana at time of test making it increasingly difficult to enforce regulations. With this in mind employers are asking themselves; what is a reasonable time frame for workers to return to safety sensitive jobs?


Why It Matters To Your Organization By: Dr. Farrell Cahill

For almost two years now, Canadians have been waiting with baited breath on the legalization of Marijuana. Within Canadian industry, advocates are concerned about the implications of Marijuana legalization on workplace safety. As we approach the age of legal recreational Marijuana how should Canadian organizations prepare themselves for this shift in culture?


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