As the federal government prepares to legalize marijuana sometime this year, many people including those in the construction industry, wonder how people will be able to test drug-impairment.
Currently, it’s difficult to test for drug-impairment – and that’s a problem on the roads in a province with staggering drinking and driving statistics and a problem to those who work in more dangerous industries.
“Employers across the province – and across the country frankly – are really wrestling with how we can manage both safety and liability in an environment where we simply don’t have the tools today to be able to effectively measure impairment with marijuana on the job site,” Mark Cooper, president of the Saskatchewan Construction Association (SCA), told Gormley.
He said this has been an issue of concern since the Liberals took office in 2015.
“You can tell whether someone has marijuana in their system but you can’t tell whether that level impairs them,” he said. “In fact, we don’t have what I’d call a universal measure of impairment for (marijuana) anyway, like we do with alcohol.”
Cooper said the SCA is calling on the federal government to invest in research into the tests needed for marijuana impairment. He also wants to see the Trudeau government set a standard of impairment, as seen with alcohol.
“We’re hoping that common sense will prevail here. No responsible advocate is saying anyway that employees should be allowed to be high while on the job site,” Cooper said. “The question is how do we monitor that, how do we prevent that, where it is happening, to protect the lives of all the other workers on the sites.”
According to Cooper, the federal government hasn’t done enough consultation with industries, at least in Saskatchewan. He worries the tests and standards needed won’t be in place in time for legalization.
“Unless this happens quickly, no it won’t happen in time and that’s something that should worry all of us,” he said.
“We want (the federal government) to engage with employers and with employees to come up with ways to ensure that we can move forward in this direction that they want to move forward in, but do it in a way that will protect the lives of our workers.”
The federal government has said the legalization bill could pass late this year or in early 2018.