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The rules around marijuana usage have been loosened over the past few years. Currently, 33 states allow the drug for medical consumption, and 15 allow recreational consumption. Employees may rely on the substance for the treatment of a wide variety of health conditions, with a medical card that allows them to visit dispensaries.
This creates questions for employers, as they face the possibility of employees showing up under the influence, or worse—using marijuana on company time. Employees may wonder, “Is marijuana legal at work?”, especially if they live in a state that has decriminalized it at the state level.
A legitimate concern for employers is one of safety… can an employee who uses marijuana safely perform job duties to not cause harm to themselves or anyone else on the job? Being under the influence, even if the drug wasn’t consumed during work hours, can impact an employee’s focus and concentration and decrease their productivity.
What About Drug Testing?
If your workplace requires drug testing for employees, you may notice positive test results even when employees have been using marijuana outside of work. This can make things complicated.
Many states have laws protecting medical marijuana users from repercussions. One step you can consider is to remove employees who have a medical card for prescription marijuana from job roles or activities that could become dangerous due to marijuana usage.
Regulations in several states where medical use is legalized (Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia), include employment protection for employees who rely on marijuana for medical purposes. This includes anti-discrimination requirements, even when the drug is used outside of work hours. It’s important for employers to be aware of laws such as these to avoid any courtroom situations with employees.
Is Zero Tolerance the Best Plan?
Since marijuana usage is still illegal at the federal level, you may simply decide to take a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to usage among your workers.
Before you determine what road to take, always consult your legal advisor for his or her advice. This way, you can be sure you’re following any regulations and are legally backed in your decisions and official policies.
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And for more information about this and other HR trends for 2021, download our resource.
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