As Canada evolves as the first G7 country to legalize cannabis, it is time for companies to develop new policies to include the use of medical marijuana in the workplace.
Marijuana is a more effective and safer way in which to treat ailments than prescription drugs says Peter Blecher of Starseed Medicinal, a Canadian company that produces medical cannabis. Blecher underscores his belief by revealing that almost 4,000 Canadians died last year from opioid overdoses. Furthermore, almost one in five Canadians is a chronic pain sufferer.
He says opioids have disastrous side-effects and are life-threatening and believes that medical marijuana is the answer. Listing, accountants, grandmothers, laborers, lawyers, scientists and teachers among his patients, Blecher says they are not looking to get high but are looking to get well.
Blecher says he has first-hand experience of prescription drugs aggravating and not relieving a medical condition. Medical cannabis, on the other hand, delivered the desired results. Not only can marijuana treat ailments, it can also assist patient to wean themselves off their addiction to opioids.
Marijuana the workplace and insurance providers
Blecher works with insurance providers, employers and healthcare professionals to educate them about the attributes of medical marijuana.
He was able to attract the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), into an industry-first partnership with Starseed. LiUNA is a 120,000 membership-strong North American construction union and have first-hand knowledge of chronic pain suffering associated with the industry. LiUNA has embraced cannabis as a safer alternative to prescription drugs. A recent Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey found support forLiUNA’sinitiative. Sixty-four percent of employees said that medical marijuana should be covered by their health benefit plans.
Insurance providers, on the other hand, are divided about whether or not marijuana should be covered by health plans.
- 34 percent want cannabis to be included
- 34 percent don’t want to see marijuana covered by insurance
- 32 percent are undecided
Of the 34 percent insurance providers who approve of medical marijuana, eight percent already offer their clients thisoption in their policies.
Stoned in the workplace
For many employers, workers who clock in for work when “stoned” is a dilemma they don’t know how to handle. Blecher’s advice is to handle the situation exactly as one would if an employee arrives to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Disciplinary action can take various forms but it is imperative for companies to clearly define their policies surrounding issues such as intoxication.
Employers are being urged to review and clearly define their policies about marijuana and the workplace because, with legalization, there is growing concern about workers arriving to do their daily tasks while high.
Blecher is a supporter of medical marijuana having been converted in his thinking after seeing the results achieved with the non-addictive use of cannabis as opposed to opioids.
He feels the time has come for people to put an end to categorizing medical marijuana with products used for recreational purposes – they are two different animals and, according to Blecher, only then will progress be made in saving lives with cannabis rather than prescribing addictive and life-threatening opioids.
Blecherbecame involved with Starseed Medicinal as its chief medical officer charged with advocating medical marijuana in the workplace as a safe and responsible alternative to addictive prescription drugs.