Employers considering a tolerant attitude towards recreational cannabis in the workplace should consider safety hazards and legal liabilities. 

In the heyday of the two-martini lunch, employers regularly tolerated alcohol in the workplace or employees presumably impaired by alcohol returning to work.  Over the succeeding decades, employers began to concentrate on the business and legal liabilities imposed by drug and alcohol use and impairment in the workplace — including increased absenteeism, mistakes, sexual harassment, workplace violence, and accidents/injuries.  Employers also discovered that their insurance companies claimed exemptions for certain claims if the employee that created the issue had been consuming alcohol at work. As a result, employers largely began to adopt policies that prohibited employees from using or being under the influence of alcohol (and drugs) while at work.  Most employers since have prohibited alcohol and drugs entirely or restricted alcohol to occasional company Christmas parties and social functions.
Continue Reading Weed at Work: Should Employers Expand “Alcohol at Work” to Cover Recreational Cannabis?

Earlier this month, Governor Pritzker signed into law SB 1557, revising the Recreational Cannabis Law to expand permissible marijuana testing and related adverse action.

The Original Legalization Bill As Enacted

The Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (410 ILCS 705) (the “Legalization Act”) legalizes recreational cannabis for Illinois adults starting January 1, 2020. The Legalization Act specifically allows Illinois employers to enforce “reasonable zero tolerance or drug free workplace policies, or employment policies concerning drug testing, smoking, consumption, storage, or use of cannabis in the workplace or while on call provided that the policy is applied in a nondiscriminatory manner.” The Act also permits employers to prohibit employees from being under the influence of or using cannabis in the employer’s workplace or while on call. Further, the Act (i) allows employers to discipline or terminate an employee who violates the employer’s workplace drug policy, and (ii) specifically insulates employers from liability for disciplining or terminating employees based on the employer’s good faith belief that the employee was either impaired at work (as a result of using cannabis) or under the influence of cannabis while at work.
Continue Reading Illinois Amends Recreational Cannabis Law To Protect Drug Testing By Employers

Employers are grappling with the wave of marijuana laws sweeping the nation, some of which provide very employee-friendly protections. While no state requires an employer to tolerate employees’ use of marijuana or impairment while they are working, present drug testing methodologies cannot determine whether an employee used marijuana two hours or two weeks ago. That might be changing as companies reportedly are closer to developing technology that will be able to detect recent use, a welcome development for both employers and employees.
Continue Reading Marijuana Breathalyzers: Could New Testing Methods Help Employers And Employees?

The National Safety Council released a policy statement endorsing employer zero-tolerance policies for cannabis use for employees who work in safety-sensitive positions, explaining that no level of cannabis is safe.
Continue Reading National Safety Council Endorses Zero Tolerance Prohibition on Cannabis/Marijuana for Safety-Sensitive Employees

In a time where marijuana legalization is rapidly expanding, all employers should reassess their workplace drug testing policies to be sure they are in compliance with existing and soon to be effective state and local laws.  Currently, thirty-three states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have passed laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form. 

As previously reported, Oklahoma’s medical marijuana laws dictate that an employer cannot discriminate against a person in hiring or termination, or otherwise penalize a person due to the person’s status as a medical marijuana holder or as a result of a positive drug test. So now that Oklahoma has gone green and created such

As previously reported here, on November 8, 2016, Maine voters approved “Question 1 – An Act to Legalize Marijuana” (“the Act”), which allows for, among other things, the recreational use of marijuana. The Act became the first law of its kind in the nation to protect employees and applicants from adverse employment action based on their use of off-duty and off-site marijuana.

Simply stated, the Act prohibits employers from refusing to employ or otherwise taking any adverse action against any person age 21 or older based on that individual’s off-premises marijuana use. However, the Act permits employers to bar the on-premises use and possession of marijuana and to discipline employees for being under the influence of marijuana in the workplace. Employers may no longer test job applicants for marijuana. Moreover, according to the Maine Department of Labor, for purposes of a reasonable suspicion drug test, an employee’s positive drug test, by itself, will not be sufficient to prove that the employee is “under the influence” of marijuana.


Continue Reading Maine Employers Receive Little Guidance From Department of Labor on New Recreational Marijuana Law

With Pennsylvania joining in last month, nearly half the country has laws permitting state residents to use marijuana for medical purposes, and a handful even permit recreational use. California led the movement when it passed the so-called “Compassionate Use Act” in 1996. At present, use and distribution of marijuana remain federal offenses, although unenforced per current U.S. Department of Justice policy.

The increasing accessibility of marijuana over the years, as well as its acceptance into mainstream culture, have led to serious misconceptions regarding its permissibility in the workplace. We offer here a few reminders to help clear up this this sometimes “hazy” area of California law.
Continue Reading A “Hotbox” Of Legal Issues: California’s Workplace Marijuana Laws