Alcohol has long been a mainstay at the office social event, whether it is an in-house party or a dinner out. But the federal government’s decision to legalize cannabis — which came into effect this past October — added a new factor for Canadian organizations to consider when planning these social gatherings.
There is an expectation that marijuana’s prevalence will rise even as alcohol consumption has declined in the office. “Years ago, alcohol usage at parties was far more frequent than it is today. Companies have eliminated or minimized alcohol because of the potential liability,” says Jordan Rodney, president of Richmond Hill-based human resources consulting firm MaxPeople and founder of Rodney Employment Law. “Interestingly cannabis is going to follow a reverse process, I think employers are going to start off very narrow and restrictive, but as more information comes available … they might flex a little bit.”
He’s not the only one that expects usage to rise over time. Aileen Turnbull, V.P. of HR at Hamilton-based Verus Recruiting & HR Consultants, acknowledges the possibility that usage might go up as stigma around the drug decreases, but she isn’t expecting it to make too much of an initial splash. She attributes this to a lack of a provincial regulation, distribution channels and current laws prohibiting use in public spaces, like company-sponsored events.