Halifax man loses job offer over cannabis use
Christy Somos, with a report from CTV Atlantic's Heidi Petracek
Published Friday, May 17, 2019 7:04PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 18, 2019 10:19AM EDT
A Halifax man had a job offer rescinded from the local water treatment plant because he tested positive for cannabis use in a pre-employment drug test – even though the substance is legal in Canada.
“I don’t do any illicit drugs, I’m a hard worker,” Patrick Whalen told CTV Atlantic. “I thought ‘OK, I’m not a frequent user, I use it once in a while.’”
Whelan had applied for the job in April, had an interview early May and was offered the job the same day. It was then he was told he would have to undergo a drug test as a condition of his employment.
After waiting five days, Whalen submitted his urine. The results came back positive for cannabis and Halifax Water withdrew their job offer.
“I got penalized,” Whalen said. “[I] did not receive the position because I smoke legal cannabis.”
A spokesperson for the water treatment company said that the drug screening is “a matter of safety.”
“We’re around heavy moving equipment,” said James Campbell, a spokesperson for Halifax Water. “That’s really dangerous and we want to make sure that the folks working here are in their best possible position.”
Employment attorney Jill Houlihan told CTV Atlantic that “it’s generally not prohibited for an employer to conduct drugs testing” before someone becomes an employee.
“The reality is, if you are in the job market…you would be well advised to abstain from cannabis,” Houlihan said.
Cannabis stays in the body longer than alcohol, meaning that prospective employees may still fail drug tests several days after using the substance.
Whalen has found other work, but is warning Canadians that their use of a legal substance may affect their job prospects.