Workplace Drug Tests OK With Canadians If Weed Legalized: Poll

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More than three in five Canadians say companies should be allowed to administer random drug tests to employees when marijuana is legalized, a new poll finds.

The poll from Insights West found 62 per cent of respondents would support drug-testing policies. That number rises to 70 per cent among those aged 55 and over, and 71 per cent among those who voted Conservative in the last election.

A larger majority — 84 per cent — back giving police the right to arrest someone suspected of driving on drugs, in order to administer a urine test.

drug test urinalysis
A majority of Canadians back drug testing in the workplace if marijuana is legalized, a new poll finds. (Photo: Getty Images)

There are few laws governing drug testing in Canada, but — unlike in the U.S. — courts over the years have restricted when and how employers can drug-test employees.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2013 that random drug testing in the workplace violates a worker’s right to dignity and privacy, but allowed some exceptions.

It said companies can drug-test when:
  • There is reason to believe an employee was impaired at work
  • An employee was involved in an accident
  • An employee returns to work after substance abuse treatment.

marijuana poll
Insights West's poll found widespread support for marijuana decriminalization, with 62 per cent in favour and 31 per cent opposed. (Chart: Insights West)

Oil giant Suncor earlier this year won a round in its battle to drug-test employees, when a Court of Queen’s Bench judge overturned an earlier ruling that random drug-testing violated the rights of the company's employees.

Suncor had argued it was struggling with widespread substance abuse problems, presenting evidence of 2,276 “security incidents” related to drugs and alcohol between 2004 and 2013.

No big spike in demand if pot legalized

The poll has good news for those worried that legalization will turn Canada into British Columbia a nation of potheads. Fewer than one in 10 respondents (nine per cent) said they were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to try marijuana if it were legalized.

As the National Post notes, it seems Liberal voters are the most likely to get high after legalization, with 16 per cent saying they were somewhat or very likely to try weed after legalization, compared to just three per cent of Conservative voters and two per cent of NDP voters.

kathleen wynne
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is among those who have floated the idea of using provincially-regulated liquor stores to sell marijuana, but the idea has gained little traction with the public. (Photo: Christophe Ena/Associated Press)

Weed in liquor stores? No, thanks

The Insights West poll also found Canadians largely oppose the idea of using provincially regulated liquor stores to sell marijuana, an idea Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, among others, had floated.

Only 16 per cent said they would support marijuana sales where they buy their booze.

Among all respondents, 36 per cent said they would rather see standalone stores sell the bud (in essence, legalizing the pot dispensaries that have sprung up across the country).

Meanwhile, 29 per cent said they would like to see marijuana sold in pharmacies. That’s a move that drug retailers themselves would like to see. Both the Canadian Pharmacists Association and Loblaw Co. president Galen Weston have argued for pharmacy sales of weed. (Loblaw owns Shoppers Drug Mart.)

The survey was carried out online between Sept. 30 and Oct. 4, 2016, and polled 1,033 Canadian adults. It has a margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points.

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