30% of office workers feel that marijuana in the workplace should be moderately or very unrestricted
As of October 17th, 2018, marijuana will be legal in Canada, opening the door to significant societal changes as well as the need for usage regulations within the workplace.
To place this cultural shift in context, Canada is the first G7 country to implement national legalization for recreational cannabis and only the second country in the world after Uruguay, which enacted similar legislation in 2013.
For this reason, it is safe to say that there are a number of unknowns in terms of exactly how this will play out day-to-day within Canadian society, economic structures and the diverse corporate environments within which we work.
Charting new territory
While Bill C-45 known as the Cannabis Act legalizes marijuana across Canada, it leaves it up to each individual province to determine how and where they are going to sell the product.
Given this level of autonomy, there are valid questions arising regarding the specifics of retailing, marketing and level of restriction within the workplace.
With few reference points for cannabis legalization on a national scale, Canada itself may become the primary global touchstone in terms of the policies and procedures adopted.
Let’s take a closer look at the attitudes, beliefs and opinions held by Canadian workers, specifically as it pertains to the expectations people have for cannabis in the workplace.
Let’s get this party started—or not
A survey conducted in September 2018 by Colliers International Asset Advisory Services examined the beliefs of 1062 respondents located in office buildings that they manage.
Participating provinces included British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
When asked about the level of restriction that should be imposed regarding the use of marijuana in and around working environments, some of the responses were unexpected. A total of 38% of the respondents believed that marijuana should be strongly restricted in the workplace with zero tolerance.
At the same time 30% believed that marijuana should be moderately or mostly unrestricted at work. This sentiment came as a surprise, conveying the idea that people thought that it was fine to go out for lunch and consume marijuana, similar to having a glass of wine or a beer.
This in turn raises potential policy and procedure questions for property managers in terms of where it is acceptable for people to consume cannabis, and whether or not to follow the same rules that are used for smoking tobacco.
Marijuana retailers in office buildings
There has been significant discussion regarding the concerns that some people have with marijuana retail outlets being located too close to schools. The Colliers survey tapped into similar concerns that some in the business community have with marijuana products being marketed or available for sale at retailers within an office building.
Many were undecided pending more information on the form that the marijuana retailing would take—would the product be sold at a dispensary, coffee shop, cannabis store or some form of government partnership.
At the same time, close to half the people surveyed, 49%, believed that retailing marijuana products within an office building is either unacceptable or very unacceptable. This could have a significant impact for landlords as they may need to think carefully before leasing space to a marijuana related retailer.
The modest urban and suburban divide
There was a slight difference between the urban and suburban attitudes toward restricting the use of marijuana in a workplace environment, as well as having cannabis retailers in an office building. Typically, the urban group was less restrictive while the suburban group was more restrictive.
Attitudes by province—with an interesting message from BC
What was especially noteworthy however, were the attitudes when broken down by province.
BC and the Atlantic provinces were most eager to see workplace restrictions, while Alberta was most likely to feel that marijuana use at work could be moderately or mostly unrestricted.
Additionally, BC was more likely than any other region to feel that retailing cannabis products in an office building was unacceptable—an interesting response given that the conversation around marijuana has been in the public sphere for the greatest amount of time.