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S2E2 - Work and School

The leaves are changing.  Fall is here.  What do you do if an employee at your job site is coming to work high?  How much cannabis should a school bus driver be using?  Teachers and students - which one should be allowed to use medicinal cannabis?  Are you less fit for work if you are on Tylenol #3's or cannabis?  We talk to Floyd Martens, a local and national School Board representative and Wendy Hofford a human resources and safety expert.  Our My Cannabis story is about a sports injury.


Episode Transcript

Floyd Martens Interview

Floyd:  Sure I've been a trustee in the Mountain View School division for a long time. I'm also the past president of the Manitoba School Board Association and the President of the Canadian School Board Association. So I have contacts outside of Manitoba and what that looks like.

Trevor:  So and that's where as I was saying off mic. I was really interested by an article I read in the Brandon Sun about there was more suspensions in the Brandon area and you know they weren't sure but they were sort of possibly attributing that to upcoming cannabis legalization. And from my guess we'll start with your national body any thoughts about what this is going to do with schools.

Floyd:  Well from a national perspective it was we've had a fair bit of discussion about what the impact of legalization will do for students and staff particularly just the numbers are a sign of what we do. The school system part of the challenge is that every province is doing different things which creates some dilemmas and to try and look at a national perspective. So we did we did actually look at some what we called a Declaration on Cannabis that we did as a national body and was signed off by most provincial associations across the country. It looked at making sure the health of students is kind of at the forefront

Trevor:  Right that makes sense.

Floyd:  And focusing on health and healthy living and healthy lifestyles and all those things being part of the conversation that occurs.  We also looked at governments because provincial governments are mandated with kind of implementation right. Even though the federal government's doing it but it's provinces that have to figure it out.

Trevor:  Yeah, we've been seeing all the different things that the different provinces are doing everything from age to how it's being sold.

Floyd:  Yeah it's  all over the map and so we didn't we couldn't get very prescriptive in details because then it changes from one jurisdiction to the next and so in order for people to really be able to sign off we did think of some things that were specific and that's said making sure that the education sector is included in the conversation the Provinces have. If they're going to start working to we need to have some dialogue.

Trevor:  That's a great idea. It's like I say before honestly it never occurred to me because you know in Manitoba they're talking about the age of use it's going to be 19. So, you know everybody, more or less, is out of school by age 19 so I never really thought about cannabis and the legalization in the schools at all.

Floyd:  Right and so we want to be engaged in that conversation. We also look at some of the things, money being generated which is part of the assumption

Trevor:  Right from taxes. Everyone likes the taxes.

Floyd:  There's hope anyway that that's what's going to come about. But the money generated would be put towards promoting healthier lifestyles. So, part of the task force on cannabis task force the federal task force talked about a number of education things that need to happen if this is legalized and so legalize it. But then we'll do a lot of education on prevention and not using it.

Trevor:  Right.

Floyd:  Its an interesting process. But anyway.

Trevor:  Yeah.

Floyd:  Now that was part of it. So we want to make sure that that occurred then we addressed a couple of things that particularly address the school component and so that there'd be no advertising.

Trevor:  OK.

Floyd:  So it'd be similar to some other products that are legal but not necessarily helpful. From a physical perspective

Trevor:  Yeah

Floyd:  Smoking and some other things.

Trevor:  Right and I think in Manitoba anyway they just recently came out with what they thought what their packaging was going to be as very plain packaging and that kind of thing.

Floyd:  So that part the use of it in public areas.

Trevor:  OK.

Floyd:  So which is also something Manitoba has addressed in their conversation of what they're going to do and then be prohibited near schools.

Trevor:  And that makes sense

Floyd:  Which is another one of those. Which again that has variations. Now one of the challenges of course in Manitoba is that it's local municipalities being involved in that process to which was announced. So that will create some other conversations where every school division has to deal with what their municipality is looking at doing.

Trevor:  Right. Yeah. And that's one of the things the Province said is that is you know let's say my municipality decided they didn't want cannabis sales. Does that mean now what happens at the local school board if literally the whole municipality cannabis isn't allowed to be sold How. How is that going to affect the school in the division.

Floyd:  Because of Manitoba.  Looking at 19 as you said for most of the student body that shouldn't it shouldn't be a legal product to deal with it. Same way you do with other products that are illegal.  So particularly alcohol that would be the same with the human resource component.

Trevor:  All right so now we're talking about teachers and staff.

Floyd:  Yes or yeah. And in the context of you know bus drivers.

Trevor:  Sure.

Floyd:  Particularity. So alcohol is a legal product but if someone's under the influence then there's discipline processes that you use. Of course you know in that environment so you wouldn't expect someone to come to work under the influence. The difficulty is what is under the influence of cannabis look like.

Trevor:  Yeah. We've talked about that with other guests because you know we've got lots of good tests for you know if you blow point 0 8 with alcohol you know you're legally impaired. But just because you can test for THC in somebody is different from them being impaired. And we talked a little bit with a lawyer about how that might be figured out and you know he was talking about you know walking the line and touching your nose. But does that mean you guys have to have every bus driver you know walk a line in the morning and touch their nose and do some jumping jacks.

Floyd:  And again everything from those environments to because they're talking right now we're talking about smoking is being the method.

Trevor:  Right

Floyd:  That's legalized

Trevor:  But there's lots of other ways for it to go in.

Floyd:  There's lots of other ways but so once that like that as some distinct things. So when you talk to human resources and particularly labor relations kind of components and what that looks like the smoke component you may have others who are sensitive to smoke.  There's other there's other challenges with making sure the environment.

Trevor:  I'm sure in Manitoba and all schools are like completely smoke free.

Floyd:  Yes.

Trevor:  It's probably like

Floyd:  Yes.

Trevor:  That across Canada.

Floyd:  Probably I can't say for sure

Trevor:  We'll we'll say probably.

Floyd:  Probably.

Trevor:  So I'm I'm guessing the whole even if you were a staff member smoking even if it was medicinal would probably not. You know schools are smoke free areas I assume that wouldn't go over really well but you're right. What if what if they were consuming it in other ways.

Floyd:  Right. And again the smoke component is if you walk off school property which students do.

Trevor:  Right.

Floyd:  And then come back and there's the smell is on your jacket and you or on your clothing and you're in the school saying that may have you know reactions to other staff members or students or because again all odors and sensitivities and all those other things.

Trevor:  Sure

Floyd:  Has an impact its a matter of addressing all of those elements which you know just adds another complexity to this process.

Trevor:  Now we don't have to get into the specifics but do any sort of trends you can see across Canada again just referring back to the Brandon Sun article. They figured there was more suspensions lately and they figured more of them were. We'll call them cannabis paraphernalia and the implication was with cannabis legalization upcoming it is sort of more in the public mind so more paraphernalia was coming into schools have many of your colleagues talked about anything like that.

Floyd:  I haven't I haven't heard anything specifically about that. Not that it isn't necessarily occurring.  As school board members we may or may not directly address that it may be under suspensions or deal with you know use of alcohol or drugs. That's kind of the broader term.  And so it may be under those areas where you may start seeing or schools may start seeing impacts.  We don't we don't necessarily see all the details of what that looks like but there may be some school administrators would certainly have a greater handle on that.

Trevor:  Fair enough.

Floyd:  Than school board members would but it I guess the other part of it becomes you know we talk about medicinal marijuana is legal now

Trevor:  Right, Now from a pharmacist point of view as I frankly send kids with you know Ritalin into the schools every day and you know I'm not saying there couldn't be issues but it seems like the school, the administrators and the social workers in the school that I talked to don't seem to have a seem to have a pretty good handle on kids on medication in class if it's sort of helping them. So I'm guessing that's coming fall within the scope of what they do right now.

Floyd:  Yeah. And I think what we may see is that students or staff who are using for medicinal purposes that may come out more just in the fact that it's a legal product.

Trevor:  Right.

Floyd:  I think the fact that it's an illegal product there's been less conversation about what that is. So that just that seems to be kind of what's probably occurring.

Trevor:  Right. And from a school board point of view I guess there's also the extra complexity of you know this is people's personal private health information.

Floyd:  For sure.

Trevor:  You know if they're performing their job properly whose business is it what they're using

Floyd:  And it is a matter of it. It boils down to just a matter of making sure that something doesn't cross the line when it comes to their job performance.

Trevor:  Right.

Floyd:  Particularly when it comes to staff. I think it also comes into bearing where they maybe haven't but when they take it may have an impact.

Trevor:  Sure.

Floyd:  So it allows for at least that dialogue saying OK would it be better if you took it at this point because we notice that at the beginning of the day you took it at night without getting like those kind of some other conversations can probably be generated and once you know. But again it's something that there's a balance to make sure the work environment is a good environment for you.

Trevor:  No that's and you know knows speculating here but maybe with all this talk about cannabis maybe it will be easier to have those conversations between say a teacher and their employer.

Floyd:  Yeah I'm thinking that's probably the case the ones that once there's legalization then it's easier to cop the conversation than it is the legal product they are using for medicinal purposes.

Trevor:  It comes back to stigma.

Floyd:  Right.

Trevor:  You wouldn't believe how many guests that stigma is the first thing that that comes up. So no I think that the less stigma the better. So Floyd is has been a great conversation. Anything else you want to add. A school board school point of view with and with cannabis that I've missed.

Floyd:  No I think that's that's it. It's gonna be interesting to see how it navigates through Manitoba because you know lots of the municipality part is an interesting twist.

Trevor:  Yeah.

Floyd:  And what that's going to look like. I have no idea.

Trevor:  Who said Manitoba was dull.