There was a flurry of excitement amongst cannabis users after the Constitutional Court in Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others v Prince & Others  ZACC 30 declared that private use of cannabis was now legal. The CCMA recently considered the implications of the personal use of cannabis and its ramifications on the workplace in the case of Mthembu & others v NCT Durban Wood Chips  4 BALR 369.
In the Mthembu, case the employer dismissed several employees after testing positive for cannabis during working hours under the charge of ‘being under the influence of an intoxicating substance’. The company had a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to the use of intoxicating substances by employees due to the dangerous and hazardous nature of its industry. The dismissals were challenged on the basis that cannabis had been consumed at home.
It was found that dismissal in this instance was the appropriate sanction by the Commissioner; the reason being that the employees had disregarded the employer’s safety requirements and the substance abuse policy, the arbitration held that:-
“ … Given the factual matrix of the present matter it would be reasonable to expect the applicants not to present themselves to work under the influence of Cannabis because of the inherent dangers present at the workplace.
In a Nutshell: Rather be safe and avoid enjoying a high over a weekend, more especially where your employer has a zero tolerance policy. Even though the personal use of cannabis has been legalised, employers can still discipline and dismiss employees who report for duty under the influence of cannabis.
Remember MISA is a phone call away!