Weed and the Workplace

November 14, 2019 |

Thirty three states and DC have legalized marijuana use in some form (map here). Yet on the federal level, marijuana is a banned Class I substance. Legal in many states, illegal under federal law. This conflict is making workplaces feel dazed and confused. Let’s get into the weeds a bit.

What you can do:

  • Employers retain the right to have a drug-free workplace
  • Do not tolerate impairment on the job
  • Legalizing marijuana does not mean use must be tolerated at work
  • Safety concerns are still important: Workers covered by Department of Transportation rules, (trucking, mass transit, airline, rail workers) must be screened for drug and alcohol use if in safety-sensitive jobs.
  • Marijuana policies complying with state law should be clearly communicated
  • Federal contractors must have a drug policy that includes marijuana use, testing
  • Train managers on detecting and documenting impairment and company marijuana policies
  • Educate employees about your marijuana-use policy and the repercussions for failed tests, if used

What you should be cautious about doing:

  • Policy: Location matters. Know the laws in each state where you have employees and tailor all policies
  • Testing: tricky because of the delay factor with marijuana: tread carefully and apply judiciously. This handy testing Q & A confirms no test exists that can prove a person is impaired on the spot.
  • Pre-Employment Screening: State law may require an employer to engage in an interactive dialogue about their medical marijuana use before refusing to hire.
  • Termination:  Amazon is in court now for firing a user of medical marijuana after a random test and it does not look good. Second chance or action less than termination might be a better route for good employees.

The cannabis culture and state laws have changed. The federal law shows no sign of following. That conflict is crazier than a Cheech & Chong movie (yep, dating myself here). Puns aside, we can help with proactive and reactive marijuana issues in your workplace.  Call us.



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