“Why should I get off my prescription that’s beneficial to me? I’m not putting anyone in danger,” said Dickson, who averaged about two grams of oil a day to control anxiety and stress as well as stomach, back and hip pain. “I have worked with guys who are high on cocaine, high on meth, drunk … For them to care so much over medical marijuana, I was kind of astonished.” Apprentice ironworker Johnathan Dickson said on June 7, 2017, that he was turned down for jobs because he takes medical marijuana and failed drug tests.Ian Kucerak / Postmedia Gary Savard, business agent for Ironworkers local 720, says the union and its legal advisers have been involved in Dickson’s case from the beginning, but unless he can pass a drug test he can’t be sent to work.  Although Savard wouldn’t go into details, saying there are other issues involved in the situation he can’t talk about, he says the file is open. “I think we have (treated him fairly). Obviously, he doesn’t.” The local follows the Canadian Model for Providing a Safe Workplace, a set of drug and alcohol guidelines put out by the Construction Owners Association of Alberta reviewed by labour, management and government organizations. The model forbids anyone from reporting for work with more than 15 nanograms of marijuana metabolite in a millilitre of urine unless they’re using prescription or non-prescription drugs as directed, can do their duties safely and supervisors are warned of any dangerous side-effects. Employers have a duty to accommodate staff with medical conditions, which must be balanced by ensuring people are safe, said Savard, who deals with a couple of medical marijuana matters annually among his 2,300 members. He’d like more research done to determine how much THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) people can have in their bodies and still do their jobs safely, and what other work they can perform if their medicine leaves them impaired. “From ourselves to our partners to contractors, (we) need to take a harder look at this. It’s sort of a new field of medication. The emphasis is trying to find a place where you can fit in, accommodate an individual in a fairly dangerous occupation.” Cameron MacGillivray is chief executive of Enform, the upstream oil and gas industry safety association, which has a drug and alcohol policy closely aligned with the one used in the construction industry.

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