Cannabis Liability

Cannabis Liability

With the recent legalization of cannabis for recreational use by Government of Canada, hotels, bars and pubs need to take steps in order to properly mitigate any risks relating to the use of cannabis.

The legalization of cannabis in Canada presents a unique liability risk for bars, pubs and other hospitality establishments where alcohol is served. In response to the legalization of cannabis, some provincial regulatory bodies have begun to update their courses on responsible service of alcohol to include sections on cannabis impairment. Much like serving alcohol, it is important that owners and their staff take steps to ensure a safe environment and to mitigate their risks and liability.

It is important that staff are able to recognize signs that a patron may have consumed cannabis. Some signs to be aware of that could indicate that a patron has consumed cannabis include:

  • Red eyes
  • Poor muscle coordination
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Increased appetite
  • Sudden shift in mood from tense to relaxed
  • Abrupt symptoms of anxiety, panic and/or hallucinations
  • Distinctive smell (usually described as skunk like) on the person’s hair or clothing

If you or members of your staff suspect that a patron has consumed cannabis you should refrain from serving such individuals alcohol. Also, always maintain close observation on patrons who have consumed cannabis to ensure that they do not attempt to drive home and confirm that they have a ride from a responsible person or provide a room for the patron to “sleep it off”.

Documentation is the key to the defense of liability claims and all incidents of patrons refused service or cut-off from service should be documented. Additionally, logs of patrons who are sent home by taxi or with another driver should also be maintained including the recording of license plate numbers.

For more information on how to manage the risks of cannabis at your establishment, please contact one of our risk management professionals. Visit our Commercial Insurance page to learn how we can help protect your business.