The countdown is on until cannabis becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17.
The new law comes with mixed feelings and perspectives for members of the business community.
“It’s happening to us, it’s happening whether you like it or not. It’s happening in the models that have been chosen and we didn’t lobby for it for instance in our world but we really want to do it well and do it responsibly,” said Tim Pellerin, NSLC’s senior vice-president and CEO.
Pellerin was one of the people selected to discuss the potential impacts cannabis legalization will have on businesses throughout Nova Scotia at a luncheon in Halifax Wednesday.
The panel addressed a crowd of roughly 300 people invested in both the economic benefits cannabis legalization will bring and how it may impact the way their business runs.
“It does change some things for sure and we have to adjust policy but it’s a massive growth [opportunity] for the country as a whole in so many industries that I don’t think people really realize how many industries it can affect,” said Meaghan McIntyre, the clinical manager of National Access Cannabis Halifax.
The panel ranged from experts in labour and employment law to occupational health and safety.
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Several statements reverted back to an underlying theme: don’t panic.
“Everything you need from a regulatory perspective and a safety practices perspective is all there. It’s all there, it’s with you now. We really don’t need to reinvent the wheel from a workplace safety perspective,” said David Deveau, the regional director of occupational health and safety for the province of Nova Scotia.
Many discussion points revolved around the importance of employers putting policies in place that specifically relate to the individual working environments.
“It’s going to be very different if you’re in a mine or in an office space but I think that’s why it’s important to set the standards where someone’s fit to do their job because if they’re able to do their job and they’re consuming it, it shouldn’t be looked at any differently than any other medication,” said Ian Brown, a labour and employment lawyer with BOYNECLARKE LLP.
“If it’s not interfering with what they have to do, then they should just continue on as normal.”
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Another topic covered was the need to respect employee privacy.
“Know that that’s going to be a very sensitive topic for a lot of people who might be medical patients and it may not be something that they want to talk about it and that there is a line that they can draw there. Not everybody is open about their consumption or medicated use,” McIntyre said.
The end of the discussion was highlighted with what experts felt would be “best advice” to the business community looking towards Oct. 17.
One response, in particular, offered a lighthearted look at the complex topic.
“Chill out. The users are users and Oct. 17 will be 24 hours and it will be a normal day. Stay focused on your business strategy and don’t make it a distraction,” said Nick Beynon, with the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of Nova Scotia.
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