On the 18th September 2018 the South African Constitutional Court decriminalized the possession, consumption and private cultivation of cannabis for private use at home.
There has been widespread reaction throughout the industry regarding the potential impact this will have at the workplace specifically related to health and safety.
The information in blue below is courtesy of Sr. Nellie Nel of Indusmed.
Does the fact that one will have the right to private consumption of cannabis imply that employers will have to amend their policies and disciplinary codes?
To answer these questions, one must first consider the nature of cannabis and the effects thereof.
1 Cannabis is a psychotropic product from the plant Cannabis sativa and is potentially maladaptive. It has been used for thousands of years for inter alia medical, religious and social reasons.
2 The non-potent part of the plant, the stem, is used to manufacture paper, hemp rope, string, textiles and clothing. It is however much less harmful than for instance heroin or cocaine.
3 The effects of cannabis consumption vary due to numerous factors such as the method of administration, cannabis form, frequency and period of use.
4 Some effects can include euphoria, relaxation, relief from stress and pain, increased appetite, impaired motor skills, confusion, loss of concentration and decreased motivation.
5 Withdrawal symptoms may include headaches, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance.
6 The effects normally reach their peak within 30 minutes and can last up to 3 hours, but it may remain detectable in the bloodstream for days after consumption.
7 Cannabis can be detected between 3 to 5 days after occasional consumption, up to 15 days for heavy users and up to 30 days for chronic users.
Below is an extract from the General Safety Regulations of May 1986
2A.(1) 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.
So, while smoking dagga in the privacy of your home is now legal, arriving at work still under the influence remains illegal as per section 2A of the GSR. The issue is, how do we test or determine if a person is under the influence of dagga.
The current testing methods determine the presence of dagga in the system but does not determine intoxication unlike alcohol testing which can determine the level of alcohol in the system. I would recommend that companies amend their drug and alcohol policies to fit in with the fact that it is now legal to smoke dagga at home.
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