Changing Company Policies and Marijuana in the Workplace

Legalization of marijuana means that employers will likely have to change their policies. Previously, employers have had the right to drug test employees before hiring or could randomly drug test an employee. In the event that an employee tested positive, employers had a reason to terminate. But, now that the legal landscape is changing and many employees are legally able to use marijuana, either for recreational or medicinal purposes, employers are going to have to change their policies. With over 23 states legalizing marijuana for medical uses, and Colorado and Washington have paved the way for recreational use–what does this mean for employee rights?
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Employers based in states where the laws have changed in the past couple years have had to reevaluate and reshape their pot policies. Many are still wondering, can they fire an employee who tests positive for marijuana use? Can employers legally maintain a “drug-free workplace?” Understanding the local, state, and federal laws can be confusing for individual employees, as well as human resources departments. Businesses must maintain an awareness of how laws affect their rights as employers and take into consideration the new rights of their employees.

Laws vary by state and residents of California can legally purchase and use marijuana if they have a medical card. For employers, the risks of marijuana use can include impairment, especially for drivers, construction workers, and others who operate heavy machinery. Addiction and drug abuse in the workplace can pose a legitimate risk to employees, their co-workers, and could raise liability issues for employers. Statistics show that drug abusers are more likely to get sick or suffer an injury on the job. Many employers also argue that those under the influence are less productive and can increase dangers in the workplace. For many of these reasons, business owners want to maintain drug-free work environments.

Despite any state laws that make marijuana use legal for recreational or medicinal purposes, it is still illegal under federal law. That means that any company that is subsidized by the federal government is required to comply with federal regulations that require drug testing for workers. Federal workers and contracting companies must consider marijuana a prohibited substance under the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.
With all of the new legislation, employers must figure out how to be compliant with state and federal laws. Companies that are seeking to alter workplace drug testing policies should consult with an experienced marijuana attorney. Our Orange County medical marijuana attorneys represent dispensary owners, individual card holders, and businesses. We can help answer your questions, provide counsel, and ensure that you are in compliance with state and federal laws.

Businesses that want to change marijuana policies or that want to ensure a ‘drug free work environment’ should consult with a lawyer. Employers should also review current policies and clarify rules, expectations and potential penalties for employees. Every human resources department and managers within the company should be educated on new laws and policies and trained to handle positive drug tests.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

More Blog Entries:
Sparc: The Designer Dispensary in San Francisco, November 21, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
Teen Marijuana Use Linked to Problems Later in Life
, May 15, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog