Published on February 3, 2019 by David Wylie

Are you people drunk?

Ban transit drivers from smoking pot on their own time?

Are you people drunk?

The company that operates GO Transit light rail in Toronto has banned some of its employees from enjoying cannabis on their own time.

Some of Metrolinx’s 3,700 employees – those who work in “safety sensitive positions” – are completely banned by the company from using pot

As you can imagine, it isn’t going over very well.

The Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1587, has rightfully taken issue with the policy. Union president Chris Broeze said it’s disappointing that the company would focus on the private lives of its employees.

“Banning responsible marijuana use off-duty does nothing to improve safety,” she said. “What will be next, a ban on off-duty alcohol use?”

Exactly

The weed/booze double standard is ubiquitous.

You’ll even find the rhetoric in national cannabis media, The GrowthOp. The National Post-affiliated branch ran a video column titled, “Let transit drivers smoke pot? Are you people high?

In it, a professional pundit named Stephen Ledrew suggests it’s “frightful” that people agree with the union’s stance on protecting consistent rights across the board.

“Some Canadians are so invested in their notion of rights that they think it outweighs everything else,” he blusters. “What about the right of the rest of us not to die in bus and train accidents?”

Because someone took a few puffs off a joint the night before? Uh, ok…

“Is it really unreasonable for Metrolinx to ban employees in safety sensitive positions from consuming cannabis whether they are on duty or off-duty?”

Yes, of course it is.

How about banning employees in safety sensitive positions at all times from consuming alcohol, sleeping pills, anti-depressants, pain meds?

Do you also ban pilots, surgeons, powerline workers, paramedics, teachers, and construction workers? I could go on…

Now does that sound unreasonable? Because this kind of precedent has a trickle down effect.

You can watch Ledrew’s rant in his stars and stripes, if so inclined. Our two cents is we need to stand against this kind of hyperbolic tripe that reeks of reefer madness and projects stigma.

For the record

Don’t think I support irresponsible use of cannabis.

I understand the importance of safety and the value of human life. I’ve worked for a railway in the past, as well as other safety first corporations like utilities.

But consider for a moment how many Metrolinx employees in “safety sensitive positions” have come into work with a hangover after catching a few hours of sleep the night before. We know it wasn’t you (wink, wink).

Let’s be frank, cannabis policy should match alcohol policy. Anyone who breaks reasonable cannabis policies should be promptly punished. That said, the policy must be reasonable, and not just a flippant blanket ban.

Also take note that most of us, like the oz., have a very clear stance on driving while high: Don’t.

Rather than a ban, I’d encourage employers to bring in proper guidelines for employees, including on-call and shift schedules that give employees ample time to have a few drinks (or a few tokes) between shifts.

It’s a changing time. Let’s bring in the right policies from the start and not set poor precedents. Consider matching cannabis policy to existing ones on alcohol.

What do you think?

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