Pot during work hours? Here’s what Canadians are saying post-legalization

Young women smoking marijuana together (GETTY)

Cannabis has had a smaller-than-expected impact on workplace performance nearly one year after recreational legalization, according to a new survey of Canadian workers.

Payroll service firm ADP Canada commissioned an Ipsos survey that spoke to a sample of 1,160 working Canadians aged 18 and over. The results show most Canadian workers see cannabis having no impact at work in terms of health and safety incidents (75 per cent), productivity (74 per cent), absenteeism (71 per cent), or quality of work (70 per cent).

“There was a lot of uncertainty and hype leading up to cannabis legalization last year. But so far, cannabis has not had a noticeable impact on the workplace or on workplace performance,” Hendrik Steenkamp, director of HR advisory at ADP Canada, said in a news release on Thursday.

The results are a departure from opinions prior to Oct. 17, 2018, the day Canada became the first G7 nation to legalize recreational use. At the time, nearly half of working Canadians expected productivity (46 per cent) and quality of work (43 per cent) to decline, and said health and safety incidents (55 per cent) and absenteeism (40 per cent) would increase.

Despite the less pronounced negative impacts, the vast majority of working Canadians surveyed (86 per cent) said their employer does not permit recreational cannabis use. Only a fraction (eight per cent) said cannabis use is allowed during the workday. These findings are in line with 2018 figures indicating six per cent of Canadians thought they would be allowed to use cannabis during work hours or before coming to work.

According to the survey, the overwhelming majority of Canadians are keeping cannabis use and their professional lives separate. The survey found only a fraction of Canadians consume recreational cannabis before work (five per cent), during work hours (four per cent), and after work with colleagues (six per cent).

Most Canadian workers said they are aware of their workplace’s stance on cannabis use, however, those in management were found to be slightly more familiar with policies (86 per cent versus 74 per cent). Regionally, cannabis workplace policy awareness was found to be highest in Atlantic Canada (72 per cent), and lowest in Quebec (56 per cent.)

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