Will legalized marijuana change workplace rules?

Last week, California voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized recreational use of marijuana within the state. Prior to the vote, marijuana was only approved for medicinal purposes. With Californians over the age of 21 soon to be allowed to possess and use marijuana, questions abound as to whether workplace policies will be affected.

Essentially, it is difficult to conceive that workplace rules regarding illegal drug use may see any drastic changes. While workplaces prohibit the use of illegal drugs while on the job, most still frown upon the use of other mood altering drugs that are legal (i.e. alcohol). Regardless of whether a particular drug is legal or not, the potential problems that stem from alcohol and marijuana use while on the job are too dangerous to necessitate changes to workplace rules. 

Ultimately, employers have a continuing duty to ensure that the workplace is safe for all workers. If an employer fails to take reasonable steps to abate dangerous conditions, it could be held liable in the event of an accident. Workers doing their jobs while under the influence of alcohol or marijuana present a considerable danger to other workers.

Further, the Controlled Substances Act still lists marijuana as a class 1 drug, along with other addictive drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines. With many workplaces still subject to federal law, it is understandable that rules prohibiting marijuana use are still intact.

Nevertheless, before actions can be taken against an employee who is accused of using marijuana, certain steps must be taken. To learn more, contact an experienced employment law attorney

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