January 14, 2019 by Jason Contant
Edibles containing cannabis are expected to become legal in Canada later this year, so insurance professionals are encouraging social hosts and commercial establishments to ensure their guests are consuming these products responsibly.
With the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada Oct. 17, 2018, the inspection process for social hosts and companies just got more complicated. While a lot of bars are Smart Serve-certified to serve alcohol responsibly, they are not experts at checking for signs of marijuana impairment.
“The inspection process by the companies putting on these [music venues, for example] is onerous on them, first, to see if the person has got anything on them physically, and then also to be determining if they have any other impairment already as far as drugs or alcohol,” said Bruce Johnston, executive general adjuster with ClaimsPro’s Specialty Risk Division. “I think it’s a new learning curve with people actually taking the drug and people that are administering who comes in and who doesn’t come in because of their impairment.”
Because they are small, edibles are easy to get into a venue without detection. “So, if you happen to drop one of these edibles just before you walk into the bar, there’ll be no obvious effects because it takes at least an hour or two hours for it to kick in,” Johnston said. He describes the effect of edibles as a “body stone” rather than a “mind stone.”
Since a delay happens before the drug kicks in, and “nothing’s really happening,” somebody may decide to drink some alcohol and then take another edible. “And then within two hours, they are complete puddles,” Johnston said.
Landlords and condominium corporations also have responsibilities, especially if the building has a party room. “There is more of an onus on the landlords to make sure if people are there, they are drinking responsibly and smoking or taking their edibles responsibly as well,” Johnston said. “You can force them to have a bartender to administer the alcohol, but it would be very hard to do that with somebody who is smoking marijuana.”
The corporation that owns the building and/or the person who is organizing the party (likely one of the tenants), also has a significant amount of responsibility. “They have an onus to make sure this person isn’t getting impaired, where if they left, they wouldn’t be able to drive or if they got into a fight with the other partygoers in the apartment,” Johnston said. “That’s something the landlords are going to have to be addressing and I know some of the companies I work with are doing that to make sure there is some control over the use of marijuana in those apartments.”