CYC-Net on Facebook CYC-Net on Twitter Search CYC-Net

Join Our Mailing List

Discussion Threads

Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

ListenListen to this

Medical use of marijuana

In Canada individuals with certain medical diagnosis can be given permission to use marijuana to help manage their illness.

I am curious if anyone has encountered a Child and Youth Care worker who is using marijuana medically while on shift? And if you have – can you share a bit about how that went? I am struggling to get my head around how this could look and how it would play out.

I look forward to your comments.

Kelly Shaw

Wow... interesting query. I do not work in Canada or in a city/state in the US that has medical marijuana laws... however, I would assume that there is no difference between this and any other medication. If it is allowed by law and if the staff has a doctor's note stating that the staff needs this medicine then it becomes a question of whether the person can perform their job while on that medication. If they can... swell, if they cannot and if a reasonable accommodation cannot be made then they would be unable to do that work.

I used to have an overnight staff who had to take certain medication that made her sleepy... so sleepy that she would fall asleep. Even though the medication was legally prescribed and medically necessary, we could not have an overnight staff sleep on the job. We attempted to accommodate her needs by moving her to a day shift and she refused to make that move. We needed to terminate her employment. I am not belittling the complexities of the marijuana issues at play here in your question.... but when taken to it's basic core... medication is medication and can an employee perform their job while on the medication. Most people who use marijuana for medication do not need to be intoxicated (stoned) to feel the effect that they medically need.... anyway, I look forward to hearing more on this one... I like new issues and this is the first I have heard of this.


With all due respect to this person, I think if the thing he/she's using is affecting their performance. I don't think they are capable of performing their duties effectively! I don't think it's a complicated discussion. In other professional fields I don't believe it would be a discussion. Let's take a pilot, or a brain surgeon for example. I think if the work can allow for absence while under the influence then it can work, however if not, then absolutely no way! After all, this is working with our society's most valuable and sacred resource of all time (vulnerable youth).


I have seen a lot of CYC's use it for relaxation, and have been diagnosed ADHD. They claim to use it to calm after a shift, not to get high. I know that marijuana’s potency has changed over the years. "Skunk Weed" has THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) levels that are spiked and the positive aspects of pot "cannabidiols" are almost nonexistent. In addition, they are finding that adults who use pot have the benefits that protect their memory, but in adolescents it appears to cause neurons to self-destruct. Of course, memory and hunger are well correlated and are caused by increased activity in the hypothalamus. Therefore, if you were going for cancer treatment and could not eat I can see a prescription for medical pot would help, after you have tried other therapies. I do not think that I would want to work beside this staff member, as pot has been known to induce psychosis and hallucinations, which puts everyone on shift at risk, and becomes a health and safety violation.

Take care;

Jason Guay
Niagara Region

It is very interesting subject!!!
Let's be realistic here.... I am not in favour of using pot at work, but how many of us(cyws) fall asleep during our overnight shifts without using medications?! How many of us out there go to a 7-3 shift with hangover , and proudly discuss it with other staff member!

There is no way it should be allowed someone use this kind of medication and go to work, but a lot of staff member put children and youth at risk, without using any kind of medication!!!!

Let's sit back and think who we are and what are our motivations!!!


You're right wow!.. I am not medically trained but I would agree with all the points made by Peter. Interesting for me is Manjit's and Peter's comments about being staff perhaps incapable of performing their duties.

I'm not sure why this has been prescribed. But through a personal experience after a car crash and in the recovery period (4yrs) I was prescribed many drugs that would knock me out nowadays but which, seemingly at least, did not affect me greatly during the experience.

I guess the pain they were being used to contain nullified many of the effects you might have expected from medication such as morphine, codine, etc., as I said I am not a medic and my experience was a long time ago now.

I guess, if the drug – whatever drug – is legally prescribed, has few effects that inhibit in the performance of the task at hand or accommodations are possible at peak times, I think we would be considerate of a person for work in that situation.

Depression is one instance we have dealt with employees and there are certain drugs which we have been advised we are ill-advised to allow to be used in the work place.

All I can say is we will keep this all in mind should this particular drug ever become legal to use in the UK.

I have to admit I post this with some trepidation! The last time I posted I created ripples across the globe!! Unintentionally of course. I don't think there will be anything to be seen as controversial in this .... I hope!

Cheers all
Mark Joseph

In my work you have to have a fit-to-work note from a doctor. If a doctor thinks the person can still do their duties while medically using marijuana then who am I to question it or their competency? I work with people who take Oxycotin regularly ... you know ... 'hillybilly heroin' and that drug is a lot worse than marijuana yet the percribing doctor still gives them a note stating they are fit to work.

We aren't all perfect in our job 100% of the time.

If you do come across someone using medical marijuana then I think it would be best to straight out address the issue with the kids, otherwise they will go around thinking that so-and-so staff smokes up on shift.

'So-and-so' should do it themself (tell the supervisor and other staff first) so their is no misunderstandig as to what the drug is being prescribed for. Just be honest, most of our kids would appreciate that.


I want to thank everyone who has chosen to respond to my query about medicinal marijuana use on the job. I appreciate that medication is medication and if a physician prescribes it and the individual can function in their job than whether it is marijuana or Prozac or penicillin should not be relevant.

I would like to continue exploring if you will indulge me; smoking could also be seen as smoking and since many of our facilities have no smoking on property / on shift policies for Child and Youth Care Workers, I wonder if the fact that marijuana is taken by smoking adds to the complication.

As well, what about the impact on helping adolescents understand – I can smoke marijuana because the doctor says I can and I am ill versus – you can't smoke marijuana because it is not legal for you to do so.

Would folks who work in addiction treatment programs be allowed to smoke marijuana while on the job?

Does any program have a policy that encompasses medicinal marijuana use?

Thanks – this is really helpful!

Kelly Shaw
Nova Scotia

I am a CYCC student at Mount Royal University Calgary and I have read many responses on the issue of using marijuana as a legal medication and the implications thathas on our field. The issue is a very delicate and complex one; however,in saying that I can see this issue being more situational and dependent on the individual.

There will be caseswhere marijuana is thebest prescriptionfor certainpeople, but itis all how the individual handles the situation and articulates it to their boss,co-workers, and youth. If we stigmatize the drug into something taboo, we can create more of a rift on its effectiveness and we also create the role for it we are trying to repress. In saying that, the complications of using marijuana as alegal prescribed drug can develop confusing cognitions for youth who have always heard it was "wrong to take drugs", but then see the youth worker doing so. Perhaps, it reallycomesdown to the effective communication on the use of the drug and the role of the individualsmatureprocess in taking it.

The individual has a certain amount of control on how the youth will perceive theuse of the drug, but ultimatelythe youth will process the situation has he or she wishes. Your responsibility as theCYC worker is to display the most honest and truthful form of communication to the youth. In conclusion, it really depends on the situation and the individuals involved, but respect, empathy, and having a positive regard for the youth is essential.

Nadia Scotto

Hi Lisa, many thanks for expanding my understanding of 'legal' drug pushing in the United States of America. It was interesting to see how the supply of Oxycotin has leapt in the last decade and that the drug company is fighting a number of law suits regarding it's dubious practice in promoting the drug.

It begs the question as to why American citizens are in so much pain?

Jeremy Millar


You would have to ask an resident of the United States of America why you perceive there to be an issue with 'legal' drug pushing and why the prescription rates of Oxy has gone up in that country. I have no idea what the old vs new prescription rates are or why there are law suits against the drug company. You are looking to make a point that I can't help you with.

Specific to where I live: I live in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. The main industries here are: Mining and Forestry. That is where the typical man in this area works (If they stay around here). However once a person is injured in some way the Workers Compensation Board pays for them to be retrained if they cannot continue in their prior duties. Most of the men that work in the group homes (for my agency) that use Oxy have been men who have been retrained for social services because they have been injured (I can think of one women who was injured and retrained in the group home as well and she also was on Oxy).

I'm not speaking to the entire population of men (and women) in this area.

Lisa Penner

I am a Child and Youth Care Counselor (CYCC) at Mount Royal University currently in my second year. I have to disagree with some of the comments about medical use of marijuana. It has been proven to be a gateway drug, and I understand that this is only for medical use, but it could still lead to bigger and more serious issues. I do not believe that any one should be allowed to smoke marijuana on the job site. It is against the law to be smoking marijuana, and to be high while driving, just like it is with drinking and driving. People lose their jobs because they are drinking and getting drunk at work, so why should it be different with marijuana?

I agree however with the comment about us as CYCC that if we are trying to help a youth stop smoking marijuana but they catch us on the job smoking it for medical purposes they will mostly likely lose their respect and trust for us. They won't listen to what we have to say about quitting, they will think it is okay.
I also know that personally if I saw a co-worker smoking medical marijuana on the job site, I would not be able to trust them to be capable of their job. I would view it as someone who is getting drunk on the job, they cannot function as well or as able as they can while high or drunk. Also the smell of marijuana makes many people sick to their stomachs, I don't think it's fair to put your co-workers through that.

Bailey Johnston

I am student from MRU in Calgary. I think that workers that have been prescribed marijuana are allowed to do so only if it does not interfere with their work with the youth and children they are around. I do not think it is wise for workers to be smoking it while working, because the children and youth may not be able to distinguish the difference between medical use and recreational use. This may give them a reasoning in the children's minds that they are using drugs for medical reasons. As well the use of prescription drugs should not be taken no matter what if it impairs the judgement of the worker. I know of people that have been prescribed other drugs that are not marijuana that have impeded their judgement, but is considered ok because the stigmatism that marijuana has. Pain killers, cold and flu prescriptions that have made the workers using them to have poor judgement. Oxycontin is known to be addictive and can be far more damaging than marijuana. So we must be careful of all the prescription's that we or our co-workers may be using. This can be the case with child and youth workers, construction workers, business men and women.

I conclusion I feel that it is acceptable for workers in our field to use marijuana for medical use as long as it is done in a proper manner and does not impede the mental and physical capacity of the worker.

Prescription drugs should not be taken in view of our clients. This has to be the case for all prescription medications.

Neil Tymoruski

Hi Lisa, I did a bit of on-line research re the Oxy drug as I was so taken with the Hillbilly heroin moniker. It appears that the unscrupulous drug companies have been 'promoting' use of this drug way beyond it's original remit. You will find this sort of behaviour relatively common in the pharmaceutical industry see Ritalin for example. My general point is that society demonises illegal drug use and those who take them whilst ignoring the exploitation of the drug multinationals and the producers of alcohol who cause far more harm in society.

The specifics of your local situation detail an innovative response to maintaining men in work. It is interesting that the drug appears to be part of the package.


Jeremy Millar


Some people eat their marijuana. It apparently releases the pain reducing effects more slowly (I just heard about that the other night off TV).

The impact of helping adolescents understand the difference can be supported by the idea that 'everyone is different, you won't get everything I get and I won't get everything you get'. I think its more damaging to kids to give them an idea that when they get older everything is the same for everyone. How will they deal with people's differences then?

As far as addiction treatment centers: Some centers require you to be clean and sober for at least a year (and have a letter from your doctor and AA/NA sponsor supporting that). That applies to pain medication as well. Not all centers are like that, but the ones that are likely wouldn't have someone on pain medication working there period. That person who wants to work in addiction treatment would have to learn to live with their pain free of medication.

On another note:
Being open and honest about the types of medication that are being used by staff can also help some of our kids who are on similar medication (maybe not marijuana though). One of our kids is on the same prescription as Brittany Spears, she said when she found that out she felt so relieved because she was not so 'alone' anymore. Of course this is on a case by case basis; you would want clear direction on how to approach this with the kids (not all our kids have the same level of cognition), and you would have to be comfortable in 'everyone' knowing about you medication habits.


The International Child and Youth Care Network

Registered Public Benefit Organisation in the Republic of South Africa (PBO 930015296)
Incorporated as a Not-for-Profit in Canada: Corporation Number 1284643-8

P.O. Box 23199, Claremont 7735, Cape Town, South Africa | P.O. Box 21464, MacDonald Drive, St. John's, NL A1A 5G6, Canada

Board of Governors | Constitution | Funding | Site Content and Usage | Advertising | Privacy Policy | Contact us

iOS App Android App