Since recreational cannabis was legalized in October 2018, we’ve received many questions from clients on how to respond to incidents on their property that involve cannabis (recreational or medicinal).
A simple Google search will reveal a plethora of information about the Dos and Don’ts for managing marijuana use on your commercial property. While we can summarize the information from Government websites for you, the best way to support you in managing this risk is by sharing a client’s story and what was learned from the experience.
[If you’d like to educate yourself on Cannabis laws and regulations, please refer to the “Further Reading” section at the end of this blog post.]
Mark Rutherford is the General Manager at Brimacombe, a ski resort in Ontario. Mark has agreed to share the story of their encounter with medicinal marijuana and what they learned from this experience in order to educate others. It is important to note that alcohol and recreational cannabis are not permitted on Brimacombe property in order to minimize this type of risk.
In the Winter of 2019, a guest arrived and was smoking cannabis while unloading their vehicle. The guest was informed that the use of cannabis (recreational) was not permitted on the property and was directed to a smoking area. In the smoking area, the guest read on a sign that medicinal cannabis users must report to the front desk. Upon arriving at the front desk, the guest asked for assistance. This was the first occurrence of any medical user inquiring about being directed to the Medical Use area. The staff were caught off-guard and wanted to ensure that they were following protocol. Senior management was called, which delayed the process further. The guest was asked to produce their medical certificate, which they did, and then was verbally directed to the area that was designated as the “Medical Cannabis Use” site. No further interaction occurred with this guest; however, the guest posted to social media their perceived treatment, including negative reviews, and filed a complaint with the human rights tribunal (later retracted).
Gougeon: What did you learn from this incident?
Mark from Brimacombe: The following 3 points were learned from this incident:
- We retracted our Medical Use Location Policy and we now permit medical cannabis dose intake at all three smoking areas to eliminate confusion and isolation.
- We continue to train our staff on the proper way to approach someone smoking cannabis – by asking if it is for medical use first. If the user says that it is medicinal, then an employee directs them to the smoking area and calls a supervisor to view the user’s medical certificate. If the user says it’s recreational, the employee informs the guest that recreational use is not permitted. A supervisor is called to take over the situation.
- As a facility operator, we have a responsibility to all our guests to ensure that we are mitigating risks to the best of our ability. Following this incident, we contacted our local Police Department to ask about our responsibilities regarding medical users who we believe are intoxicated from their medication and allowing them to drive from our property. The department could only state that it was a “grey area” and that we should call the police to let them handle it.
Gougeon: How would you advise other resort owners to better manage marijuana use by clients or by staff?
Mark from Brimacombe: Develop a training session that covers communicating with known or suspected Cannabis users backed up by a policy that outlines the steps to take when the use is for both medical and recreational. Understand that if you allow smoking on your property, then you must allow medical users to smoke or vape their dose.
Contact your local police department to inquire about what to do in the event of a person suspected to be intoxicated beyond having the ability to safely function on your property or operate a motor vehicle.
It's difficult to know whether a guest is under the influence of either alcohol or cannabis. The key to minimizing risk in your business around cannabis use (medicinal or recreational) is to perform the following:
- Review or adopt a drug and alcohol policy that aligns with your brand and culture.
- Ensure your staff are frequently trained on this policy including all new and seasonal staff. Practice possible scenarios so that your staff know how to respond.
- Keep updated documentation and logs.
- Provide Accident Investigation training for staff should an incident occur related to cannabis or alcohol use. Ensure your ski patrol and/or first responders to the scene complete an incident reporting form (ex. Ski Area Accident Report [SAAR] Form), which asks whether there has been drug/alcohol use.
Contact us if you have questions about managing the risk of cannabis use at your resort. We’re here to help you simplify the chaos of risk that impact your operations.