Seyfarth Synopsis: In the first six months of 2021, several states legalized marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes, including New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and New Mexico. States show no signs of slowing down. On June 22, 2021, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed a bill that legalized recreational marijuana use by adults 21 years and older. Although provisions relating to possession are effective now (as of July 1, 2021), the employment-related provisions are not effective until July 1, 2022. Because the new law will prohibit many employers from taking certain actions in the absence of clear policies addressing marijuana use or evidence of impairment, Connecticut employers that do not have written drug and alcohol testing policies should consider developing them in the near future and those companies that have policies in place should review and, if necessary, revise their current drug and alcohol testing policies. In addition, all employers should consider training their managers on making reasonable suspicion determinations.
Can employers still maintain a drug and alcohol-free workplace?
Yes. Employers do not have to tolerate employees being under the influence of marijuana while they are working and they may prohibit employees from using and possessing marijuana during work hours and while performing their job duties or on company premises. However, employers still must be mindful of the state law protections currently available to medical marijuana users including, among other things, not taking adverse action or otherwise discriminating against someone based solely on their status as a qualifying medical marijuana patient or their possession of medical marijuana.