October 22nd, 2021

Former cop urges caution regarding cannabis in the workplace as legalization looms

By Jeremy Appel on October 28, 2017.

Ed Secondiak, a former RCMP drug enforcement officer, spoke to a group of local employers about issues that may arise due to the impending legalization of marijuana at Medicine Hat College on Friday.--NEWS PHOTO JEREMY APPEL


jappel@medicinehatnews.com
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Ed Secondiak began his Friday lecture on cannabis in the workplace by cautioning against potential dangers of the soon-to-be-legalized substance.

“We would consider marijuana a dangerous drug simply because impairment is not recognized by the individual or perhaps the person (working) with them,” said Secondiak, a former drug enforcement RCMP officer who now works with ECS Safety.

The talk at Medicine Hat College was organized by APEX and intended for local employers, whom Secondiak encouraged to ask questions at any time.

“(Cannabis) delays decision making linked to workplace accidents and injuries,” he warned.

Secondiak noted the vast increase in the herb’s potency, measured in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) percentage, throughout the years.

Marijuana typically contains 20 per cent THC after being dried out for smoking.

“In the ’70s, ’80s, into the ’90s, the THC content of the marijuana sold on the streets was half a per cent. With the super-duper stuff, maybe as high as two per cent,” Secondiak said, emphasizing the contrast.

Secondiak ridiculed the perception among some that marijuana is a cure-all with zero socially detrimental affects.

“The only thing I drink now is medical alcohol. I drink medical beer, medical wine and medical scotch. I find that it helps me sleep, it helps with my back pain, and I can drink as much as I want and I still drive,” he joked. “Would anyone believe me?”

More research needed

Although marijuana is perscribed for medicinal purposes, it isn’t recognized as a therapeutic drug by Health Canada, so there hasn’t been extensive research on its effects.

“It’s a perscribed substance, not a prescribed drug,” explained Secondiak, adding that this distinction gives companies more leeway in deciding whether to provide disability insurance.

“If you have an employee who … because of an illness (is) using medical marijuana and they can no longer work, and they’re looking for short-term or long-term disability, the insurance companies may or may not cover that individual,” he said.

“They do it now on a case-by-case basis, because the person is using a drug that isn’t recognized by Health Canada.”

With the impending full legalization of marijuana across Canada, Secondiak predicted even scanter resources will be dedicated to studying its medicinal effects.

“The money is going to that area because that’s where more profits are going to be,” he said. “We seem to to be forgetting about the research that could be going into medical marijuana.”

Despite beginning the lecture on a cautionary note, Secondiak acknowledges that the substance does have legitimate medical uses.

“We lack the research but it has a lot promise,” he said. “There should be a focus on better research, because it does benefit people. There’s no question about that.”

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