Interim CEO of the ECA Stephanie Fingal answers a question from an attendee during the panel discussion at the ECA’s seminar on decriminalisation of marijuana and its impact in the workplace at Hilton Trinidad and Conference Center.

With the recent decriminalisation of marijuana, most companies in T&T are yet to develop a policy that addresses the detection or use of marijuana in the workplace.

This was revealed by Interim chief executivr officer of the Employers’ Consultative Association of T&T Stephanie Fingal yesterday during a sensitisation session on the decriminalisation of marijuana and the impact on the workplace. The workshop was held at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, Port-of-Spain.

Fingal noted that a review of well over 170 survey responses submitted by ECA member companies during the past week, indicate that close to 50 per cent of respondent companies do not yet have a policy that addresses the detection or use of marijuana in the workplace.

“Of those that do not have a policy, 70 percent believe that their current policy does not sufficiently address potential new issues that may arise with the recent decriminalisation, “ Fingal said.

She revealed that given the significance of the issue to employers, the ECA has already begun to develop a policy template that will be made available for consumption and adaption in the coming weeks.

Fingal said she believes that employers “want to do the right thing.”

She admitted however that while the decriminalisation of marijuana presents benefits to some, it brings potential challenges that should not be casually dismissed.

“Our intention is to neither support nor to oppose the amendments to the Act, but to enlighten employers in ensuring their informed responses to the associated challenges that may present themselves in the workplace, “ Fingal said.

“These challenges may relate to the structure of pre-employment medicals, content of drug-testing and disciplinary policies and procedures, attendance and productivity, health plan coverage and premiums, safety and health at work, work-related accidents on and off the road, to name a few, “ she added.

Attorney Keith Scotland told employers and safety officers that workers caught using marijuana at the workplace or under the influence while at work is an offence – gross misconduct.

“You must be careful with this piece of legislation, understand your employees because it is your duty to look after your employees even though they don’t take care of themselves, “ Scotland said.

He gave some of the signs to look out for which includes: “If you see workman’s eyes are red; Smell, if the person has a scent that is not a cigarette scent; Speech slurred and eating a lot or the munchies.”

Dr Esther Best, who also spoke, advised that medicinal marijuana use should be taken into consideration when establishing policies.