How employees should react to marijuana use policies

As the State of California embarks on its journey of allowing recreational use of marijuana, many employers and employees may be curious of how the new laws (and decriminalization) would affect workplaces. Indeed, state medicinal marijuana use provisions do not directly translate to workplace drug testing laws. Also, marijuana is still listed as a schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

With that said, what can employees expect as state law changes? This post will provide some insight.

Medical marijuana card holders are protected – State law may prevent employers from discriminating against medicinal marijuana users. Of course, workers cannot be impaired while working, but the notion of using marijuana to treat ailments during off duty hours cannot be used as a reason to deny employment.

Employers must still follow federal law – As alluded to earlier, marijuana is still considered an illegal controlled substance under federal law. This means that employers who are driven primarily by federal law must ensure that their workers are following the law. Essentially, bus drivers, over-the-road truck drivers and some factory workers must not be impaired while working.

Employers have leeway with drug policies – Finally, simply because recreational use of marijuana is legal now, employers may still develop policies prohibiting its use while on the job. Indeed, such policies must be enforced consistently; but if they are not, it could give rise to a discrimination claim.

The preceding is not legal advice. If you have questions about the legality of an employer’s drug testing or use policy, an experienced employment law attorney can help. 

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