Original cannabis journalism for Canadians

Government employees busted for weed at work

Last summer, a couple of federal government employees got a tough lesson about why you shouldn't sell weed at work. (Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press files)

Last summer, a couple of federal government employees got a tough lesson about why you shouldn't sell weed at work. (Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press files)

Two employees of the federal civil service were sacked after being caught using and distributing cannabis at work, according to a new disclosure posted online by Public Services and Procurement Canada.

PSPC is the government department responsible for handling issues such as procurement, property management and payroll for the rest of the federal civil service. The department made the incident public because of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, which requires federal departments to post quarterly reports of any wrongdoings in the workplace.

According to the disclosure report and information provided by a PSPC spokesman, the department received a tip in July 2017 alleging that two employees were consuming and trafficking small quantities of a cannabis derivative at work at a government facility in the Ottawa region.

Both employees were casual workers. An internal investigation confirmed the pair had consumed marijuana within working hours and within Public Services and Procurement Canada premises. They also provided the marijuana to other casual employees on government property during work hours. Both employees had their contracts immediately terminated.

The PSPC spokesman wouldn't say exactly what kind of "cannabis derivative" was involved. Presumably, it could have been some kind of edible cannabis product or a concentrated oil.

"Given the small quantity involved, it was decided that it was not in the public interest to report the matter to local police," wrote the spokesman, who said the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act prevented him from providing any other details.

PSPC acted responsibly in firing the two workers, said Ivan Ross Vrána, a vice-president of public affairs at Hill+Knowlton Strategies who worked for years as a federal civil servant.

"With any kind of business, whether it's the government of Canada or a privately run business, selling (drugs raises) a whole host of issues, and there's risk to that," he said.

Vrána said he's never heard of another case of federal public servants using drugs on the job, but he sees the federal government's disclosure in this case as a positive news story with a lesson for everyone.

"It just shows, look, the government has massive responsibility for legalization and so forth, but the law applies to everybody equally," he said.

Employees of the Canadian federal government face a variety of different rules regarding cannabis and other drugs. Some agents of the Canada Border Services Agency, for example, have to avoid using cannabis within 24 hours of a work shift, but Transport Canada's cannabis policy simply requires workers to be "fit for duty".


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