Home > Drug Testing, Drug-Free Workplace, Medicinal Marijuana > Legalizing Marijuana & the Drug-Free Workplace

Legalizing Marijuana & the Drug-Free Workplace

With more and more states decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana in both medical and non-medical forms,  a new gray area in workplace drug testing is emerging. Recently Illinois and New Hampshire joined 18 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. While federal law still bans marijuana use, businesses in these 20 states and DC face a contentious, confusing process when enforcing drug-free policies in the workplace.

How Legalizing Marijuana Affects the Workplace

Marijuana Use at Work

As an employer or HR manager you might wonder how legalizing marijuana affects your drug-free workplace. Don’t worry. Most laws forbid medical marijuana use at work unless the employer gives express written permission. Your drug-free workplace policy will still stand, and your workers won’t legally be able to work under the influence.

No Discrimination

Laws legalizing marijuana do provide protections for medical marijuana users, preventing employers from discrimination against potential and current employees based on their status as medical marijuana users. This means that being a medical marijuana user won’t prevent someone from getting a job unless the position is covered under a federal restriction. For example, even in states with laws legalizing marijuana, medical marijuana users cannot become pilots, truck drivers, or school bus drivers due to stipulations by the US Department of Transportation.

Workplace Drug Policies

As stated above, laws legalizing marijuana still protect your right to create and enforce workplace drug policies, including drug-free workplace rules, drug testing, and zero-tolerance policies — as long as you apply them in a nondiscriminatory way. In other words, even if your state is legalizing marijuana, you can discipline medical marijuana patients who violate a workplace policy, such as using medical marijuana in a drug-free workplace or failing a required drug test. The discipline can include terminating an employee — several court cases have upheld this employer right.

Dealing With Laws Legalizing Marijuana in the Drug-Free Workplace

Worcester, MA | Legalizing Marijuana & the Drug-Free WorkplaceThe laws legalizing marijuana protect both medical marijuana users and their employers, but in order to protect your business there are still some ways to go about dealing with legalize marijuana. Here are the steps you should take when dealing with laws legalizing marijuana:

  • Review the laws legalizing marijuana to make yourself aware of your rights as an employer and your employees’ and applicants’ rights as medical marijuana users.
  • Review and revise your current drug policies as necessary in accordance with the law.
  • Once revised as needed, make all of your drug policies clear to your current employees and applicants. Have your current and future employees  sign a document that outlines the drug policies, indicating that they acknowledge the policies and agree to adhere to them. If you ever update the policies, be sure to inform your employees, update these forms, and have them sign them again. Also post the policies in a conspicuous spot in your workplace.
  • Enforce your drug policies uniformly and consistently for all employees.

If you have any more questions about how legalizing marijuana might impact your workplace drug policies or if you’d like professional drug testing administered at your business, contact ARCpoint Labs of Worcester today at (774) 314-9551.

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