Workplace cannabis use and perceptions among Canadian workers after legalization

Reasons for the study

On October 17, 2018, cannabis use for non-medical purposes was legalized in Canada. There is the potential for cannabis use to spill over to the workplace, which could have occupational health and safety consequences. In 2018, an IWH-led team conducted a survey of 2,014 workers across Canada from a wide range of industries and occupations to better understand pre-legalization workplace use patterns and perceptions. Findings suggest some workers engage in potentially risky workplace use and demonstrate problematic perceptions of the risks of using cannabis in the workplace. In this post-legalization study, the research team will continue to collect information from the same group of workers and more to determine whether legalization is associated with changes in workplace use and related perceptions and norms.

Objectives of the study

  • To evaluate the impact of cannabis legalization in Canada on cross-sectional and longitudinal patterns of workplace cannabis consumption, perceptions of risk and impact, workplace cannabis norms, and perceived availability in the workplace
  • To examine whether trends in these patterns, perceptions and norms differ according to age, sex, labour market gender roles, occupational groups and geographic location
  • To examine the reciprocal relationship between potentially modifiable factors (perceptions of risk, workplace cannabis norms, perceived cannabis availability in the workplace) and workplace cannabis use over time

Anticipated results/impact

This project will help policy-makers, employers, and health and safety associations and professionals understand the short-term effects of legalization on the workplace, and provide them with information to aid in the development of policies, practices and prevention initiatives to ensure lower-risk cannabis use among Canadian workers.

Project status


Research team

  • Nancy Carnide, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Peter Smith, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Andrea Furlan, Institute for Work & Health
  • Michael Frone, University at Buffalo
  • Shawna Meister, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
  • Amy Porath-Waller, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Participating organizations

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
Employment and Social Development Canada
Federally Regulated Employers – Transportation and Communications
Health Canada
Nova Scotia Trucking Safety Association
Ontario Building Trades
Ontario Ministry of Labour
Public Services Health & Safety Association
Workplace Safety & Prevention Services
Workplace Safety North

Funded by

Canadian Institutes of Health Research