For citizens that have been pushing for legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, life in the United States has been pretty good. The public’s perspective has widely shifted over the legal status of the substance and nearly every state in the country has decriminalized or legalized cannabis for patients and adults in one form or another.

But with all these new changes, how does this affect a user’s career? There are many businesses that navigate with a ‘zero tolerance’ drug policy… but in a state where the substance is legal, where is the line drawn?

Recreational marijuana is popping up all over the country. Where does your job stand? (Wikipedia)

 

New York is now on the brink of enacting a new law that would prevent employees from having to submit to a drug test for marijuana. 

Attorney Marbet Lewis is the Co-Founding Partner of Spiritus Law in Coral Gables, Florida. The firm specializes in alcohol and cannabis legislation. 

“Regardless of personal views on the value of marijuana, the trend toward full or partial legalization irrefutably brings forward questions and concerns about how changes in these laws may impact how companies run their businesses,” said Lewis.  

“It is inevitable that the winds are changing and the fog might be lifted for states like New York,” said Lewis. But, “workplace drug testing policies must comply with both state and federal laws.”

The new law applies to most companies, but there would still be strict regulations for jobs where safety was a primary concern, like law enforcement, commercial transportation and health care jobs.

 

“Prospective employers don’t test for alcohol so marijuana should be no different, but in no way does this bill justify individuals going to work under the influence,” said advocate Jumaane Williams.

Think about this: employers allow for employees to consume alcohol outside of work because of its legal status. But if it were to affect the job performance or safety of the individual working, it becomes a problem. So in states where cannabis is legal, are employers able to terminate someone who only consumed the product in their time off? This bill would say ‘no’.

“Results of drug tests should then only serve as an alert to employers about a potential risk,” said Lewis.

“Employers should take action to investigate any positive drug tests to rule out what may be permissible drug use, such as prescription medications including medicinal marijuana use, and be sure they are complying with any mandated employee medical need accommodation requirements.”

But it really comes down to a case-by-case basis, as is determined by the liability that comes from being employed in a particular field.

Lewis also said, “If an employer does opt to implement a drug testing policy, the policy should be detailed and systematic and should be discussed and provided to employees on a routine basis.  One of the best ways to disseminate a drug testing policy is to include the policy in any employee manuals along with any other workplace rules and regulations.”

Organizations like NORML are pushing for the legalization of cannabis across the US. (Wikipedia)

 

When the smoke clears, employees will want to contact their employer to find out policies before partaking in a smoke session. 

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