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What should Canadian employers keep in mind with the legalisation of cannabis edibles?

Written by
Mathews Dinsdale, Canada’s only national labour and employment law firm.
This article gives information for employers on the imminent commercialisation of recreational cannabis-infused products in Canada and its implications in the workplace.

When recreational cannabis was legalised in Canada on 17 October 2018, the legalisation of cannabis-infused products for commercial production and sale was delayed until a year later, 17 October 2019.

Under the Regulations Amending the Cannabis Regulations, SOR/2019-206, the federal Government has regulated edibles, topicals (e.g. lotions) and extracts. The regulation sets a limit of 10 mg of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in a single serving of edible product and a package of edibles cannot exceed 10 mg of THC. Given the realities of government licensing delays and edible production timelines, it will be likely be several months before commercially produced edibles are readily available for purchase nationally. However, we do anticipate that they could very well be available for the holiday season in December:  beware of what you may be gifted (or served at a holiday party)!

Edibles in the Workplace

As with marijuana in its traditional form, employers may regulate the possession and consumption of all types of recreational marijuana in the workplace. From a workplace safety perspective, the legalisation of edibles brings its own challenges.


Edibles can be found in a wide array of products, from cookies to gummy candies. Unlike marijuana in leaf form, employers may not be able to readily identify edible products found in the workplace. However their policy should require that any cannabis-containing product be labelled as such.


The effects of consuming THC through an edible, as opposed to smoking or vaping, can last significantly longer. An employee who has habitually smoked marijuana 12 hours before attending in the workplace may find they are significantly impaired 12 hours after edible consumption as it is processed differently by the body.


The onset of symptoms from edible consumption are slower than when THC is consumed through smoking or vaping. It may take between 30 minutes to 4 hours for full effects to be felt. Employees may unintentionally over-consume edibles if they do not notice symptoms shortly after ingesting.


Employers, particularly those in who operate in safety-sensitive environments, should continue to enforce their existing drug policies consistently to ensure a safe workplace free of cannabis impairment.

Loretta Bouwmeester
Partner - Canada
Mathews Dinsdale