Policies Regarding the Decriminalization of Hard Drugs

By: Bert Hick

Industry operators remain responsible for adhering to the terms and conditions of their licences.

The recent BC decriminalization legislation has caused confusion as to what this means for industry operators and their businesses. It is important to note that operators remain responsible for adhering to the terms and conditions of their licences. This includes the prohibition of allowing patrons to become intoxicated, allowing intoxicated patrons to remain on the premises through the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs, and prohibiting the possession, use, or sale of illicit substances/drugs by any person, staff, vendor, or customer.

Following are some recommendations that you can implement to protect your establishment:

1. If you do not already have a drug and alcohol policy in place for your establishment, then it is important to create one that addresses how drugs and alcohol are treated within your workplace. If you do have a policy in place, this is an opportunity to update the language to clarify that your establishment strictly prohibits the possession and/or use of drugs by staff, management, vendors, or customers. By the new law, people are able to legally possess up to 2.5g of certain drugs (this includes opioids, crack and powder cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA), but your policy may maintain that the possession, use and/or sale of drugs within your establishment is strictly prohibited.
2. Post a sign at the front door, in the washrooms, and in your staff areas that state your business has a zero-tolerance policy with regard to drugs and that the possession, consumption, or sale of drugs on the premises is strictly prohibited.
3. Educate your staff on seeing signs of impairment and their duty of care to prevent liability with the overuse of alcohol when mixed with drugs.
4. Enforce the rule that if a person, staff member, or customer, is seen using drugs, they are to be removed from the premises immediately.
5. It is important to be clear that decriminalization by the government does not mean that the possession, use, or sale of drugs will be tolerated at your business.

Taking these actions will not only help you avoid problems with drug use but also aid with the defence of due diligence in the case of an incident.

Bert Hick is the president of Rising Tide Consultants and can be reached at 604.669.2928 or