Weed in the workplace

Am I allowed?

With the legalization of marijuana in south Africa for personal use, many South African people found themselves on the very giggly and munchier side of the fence, cheering in happiness that they could now, legally exercise their rights to possess and smoke marijuana for personal and private use, without the hand of the law reaching in to “drag” them to justice as it were. But what are the implications in the workplace? Does this mean that I can smoke weed at the office? Or get high before work, or even share a blunt with your colleagues or boss? Well, the answer to that is that is that it is complicated. Even though the personal and private use of marijuana is now legal in South Africa, there are other laws that come into play.

Smoking in Public

Firstly, if we look at the law itself on the personal and private use of cannabis, we will see that it specifically applies to personal and private use, not public. But then the argument stands if I keep the marijuana in my bag and smoke it in the privacy of my car, before or during work, then it is legal, right? Yes, technically it is, but you must consider that smoking in your car that is parked in a public space is still considered to be in public premises and therefore not allowed, as the laws on public smoking is very firm in what is allowed and what is not.

General Safety

Further to that, cannabis use has an intoxicating effect and can therefore impede or even endanger your work efforts. As stipulated in the General Safety Regulation 2A section (1), (2) and (3): “Subject to the provisions of sub-regulation (3), an employer or a user, as the case may be, shall not permit any person who is or who appears to be under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, to enter or remain at a workplace.(2) Subject to the provisions of sub-regulation (3), no person at a workplace shall be under the influence of or have in his or her possession or partake of or offer any other person intoxicating liquor or drugs.(3) An employer or a user, as the case may be, shall, in the case where a person is taking medicines, only allow such person to perform duties at the workplace if the side effects of such medicine do not constitute a threat to the health or safety of the person concerned or other persons at such workplace” Therefore it really becomes a challenge to use cannabis at the workplace as you are in breach of various laws, including misconduct at the workplace and therefore subject to disciplinary action.

Proving Intoxication

But wait, they have to prove that I am intoxicated, right? Well, yes and no… as there are currently no definitive guidelines on the matter, an employer is forced to rely on observational techniques if the employee refuses to participate in testing and if the employer has a strong witness confirmation, then you can be dismissed, even without testing. Bear in mind though that this is not applicable to the actual use of cannabis as even in testing, traces of cannabis can be found over a month after the use thereof, but actually the intoxicating effect it had at the workplace, which can last between 3 and 6 hours.

In conclusion

To sum up, being in possession of cannabis at the workplace is in not allowed and certainly sharing with colleagues and bosses is also illegal, as is being high during working hours, so don’t use cannabis at work or even before work as this can land you in some serious trouble with your employer. Stick to the privacy of your home, after hours, with enough time to get over the munchies and giggles, so you can safely and accurately do your job to buy more weed come payday

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