American Voters are Seeing Green

Mary Jane was a stand-out winner from the 2020 election

On Nov. 3, 2020, voters in several states voted to “puff puff” pass measures to allow recreational marijuana or medicinal marijuana, leaving many employers in these states to navigate a gray area of legislation when it comes to company workplace drug policies.  

There are now 15 states allowing recreational marijuana, with the newest additions being Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey. Additionally, 35 states have now legalized medical marijuana. Mississippi and South Dakota were recently added to the list, with the latter also passing recreational marijuana through a joint ballot initiative. Take a look at this U.S. map showing the marijuana laws in all 50 states

Marijuana is still considered an illegal substance at the federal level, so while more states are choosing to spark up medical marijuana programs or allow recreational marijuana, employers are having to revisit their workplace drug policies to make adjustments or determine if they’re simply going up in smoke. 

The guidelines each state sets around medical or recreational marijuana vary widely. Like Arizona, some states have additional marijuana laws on record that prohibit employers from discriminating against medical marijuana users. On the other hand, Montana added employer-friendly provisions to their laws that do not require businesses to permit or accommodate recreational marijuana use in the workplace or on the employer’s property. 

Keeping track of these laws across the U.S. or just in your state can turn into a mixed bag of stems and seeds pretty quickly, so it’s important to know your local regulations when adjusting and enforcing your workplace policies. Let’s roll up some best practices to follow 

while your company navigates the budding marijuana landscape according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM):

  • Don’t tolerate marijuana use on the job, just as you wouldn’t tolerate alcohol use.
  • Train managers to spot signs of impairment.
  • Think carefully about the type of [drug] test your company uses and stay on top of developments in testing technology. 
  • Talk to a lawyer about relevant state laws before setting policies and rules. 
  • For companies operating in different states, testing policies may need to vary by location. 
  • Educate employees about the company marijuana-use policy and the repercussions for failed tests, including random, post-accident, or reasonable suspicion tests. 

Ultimately, employees must follow an employer’s workplace drug policy and can’t be under the influence of marijuana while at work or while driving for work regardless of their status as a medical marijuana patient or if their state allows recreational use. 

From guiding you through best practices to helping you create and enforce workplace drug policies, our HR business partners are ready to help clear up some of the gray area around these issues. Contact your HR business partner at 888.811.5150.

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