With the recent election, marijuana laws are changing all over the United States, and each state has a distinct set of rules and regulations. It’s important to stay up to date on laws in each state, as they soon may become the laws in your state. Some states allow medical marijuana use, some allow medical and recreational, and some allow CBD or low THC products. Other states do not have any public marijuana access at all. When it comes to marijuana in the workplace, every state and every profession will be different. Most companies are eliminating screenings for marijuana during pre-hire drug tests as their state allows its use, whether it be for medical or recreational use. Other professions, including many safety-sensitive positions or government jobs, must still perform a drug screening.
The topic is touchy because employees believe they are free to do as they please outside the workplace in states where marijuana is legal. Still, employers must consider that there may be ramifications regarding drug testing while an employee is at work. There are laws in place that prohibit discrimination against tobacco users, but what about marijuana? There are laws stating employers cannot conduct pre-employment marijuana tests in New York and Nevada unless the person is in a safety-sensitive or federal position. The topic of marijuana use is a thin line, as some states allow recreational and medicinal marijuana use. How would it be fair for an employer to allow a medical marijuana user but not a recreational marijuana user when they’re both legal in the state?
It becomes an even touchier subject if an employee is to file a worker’s compensation claim, and there is a belief they were under the influence of drugs when the accident occurred. Many companies require a drug test for every workers’ compensation incident. An employee may test positive for THC during these drug tests, even if they use medically outside the office, off-duty.
No matter if a drug is illegal or not, you have every right to enforce a policy of employees not being under the influence when on- duty. It’s advised that you settle on a policy, educate your employees on it and stick to those set guidelines, no matter what the situation is. A great place to house this policy is in the employee handbook to be reviewed annually.
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