How Does Legal Marijuana Affect the Employer?
The Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, more commonly known as Prop 64, was passed by voters back in November of 2016 and has now come into effect beginning this year. This allows for the legalized purchase, possession and use of marijuana for recreational purposes. This leaves to wonder what an employer is to regarding the new legislation and workplace conditions. This initiative has left many companies and employers consulting employment lawyers with several questions regarding their current workplace policies and procedures for both current employees and prospective new hires.
Under Federal Law, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug perceived to have a high potential for abuse; Schedule 1 drugs are also perceived to have no medical value. Due to this classification, the California Supreme Court upholds that an employer can still enforce a zero tolerance policy against marijuana use, which includes pre-screening for potential new hires as well as conducting post-accident and “reasonable suspicion” drug tests for active eployees. Employers have a right to enforce policies and procedures that promote healthy work practices and most importantly help maintain a safe work environment.
What Should the Employer Do?
Employers looking to implement or enforce these procedures are encouraged by employment attorneys to review, evaluate, and update current company policies. Company policy regarding substance regulations, testing procedures, and disciplinary infractions should be clear, specific and maintained up to date. This includes, but is not limited to, company rules and employee handbooks. Employers can reprimand or take further action if an employee is found to have violated company policy, so long as it is made clear that there is no discrimination involved in the process.
For more information on drug use detection and consequences, you can also read our blog on workplace drug abuse.