Marijuana Laws and Your Employees: Examining the High Points

Beth Dean 09.21.18
42 Leaf Plant On White

Marijuana is currently legal for recreational use in four states and allowed for medical use in several more.

Weeding through the various marijuana state laws and how they interact with workplace policies can be difficult, but a Colorado Supreme Court ruling recently made it a lot more blunt.

Although workplace policies generally must follow federal, state, and local laws, they’ve hashed out an exception for marijuana. Even in states that allow the use of marijuana, a company’s drug-free workplace policy can trump state law.

Example: Mary Jane, a Colorado employee, uses the legally-allowed amount of recreational marijuana while off-the-clock at home, then tests positive to a random drug screen the next week. If the company has a zero-tolerance drug-free workplace policy, Mary Jane can be subject to termination.

The Colorado Supreme Court further cemented the company’s ability to overrule state law in a ruling that many believe will set precedent for Colorado and other states in which marijuana use is legal. A quadriplegic employee had a medical marijuana card, consuming it while off duty to manage leg spasms. After he tested positive in a random drug screen, he was fired by his employer for violating their zero-tolerance drug-free workplace policy. The Colorado Supreme Court upheld the termination as lawful. Since recreational and medical marijuana use in unlawful on the federal level, the state’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities statute would not protect an employee who is violating an established company policy.

Further, the legalization of marijuana does not cross state lines. If an employee consumes marijuana in a state where it’s legal, then comes home and fails a company’s drug screen, the employee can be subject to the consequences lined out in the company’s drug-free workplace policy, including termination.

Also on Nextep

Get ready for changes! As of July 1, 2024, a new wave of state laws are set to go into effect across the country. These updates impact everything from worker protections and minimum wage to important regulations for businesses. Whether you’re an employer, employee, or simply a resident staying informed, this article will guide you […]
Read more
Exemptions from Overtime Pay: A Guide for Employers The Department of Labor (DOL) has announced significant changes to overtime regulations for salaried employees exempt from overtime pay. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know and how to prepare: Key Changes: Increased Salary Thresholds: Currently, salaried workers earning less than $35,568 annually are exempt […]
Read more
A Game Changer for Employers The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently made a significant change regarding employers’ use of non-compete agreements. The final rule issued by the FTC prohibits the use of non-compete agreements for many workers, which is a departure from the longstanding practices of many companies. This decision is already facing legal challenges, […]
Read more
Key Points for Employers About the Latest Harassment Guidance The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently updated its guidelines on workplace harassment enforcement. This was the EEOC’s first update in more than 30 years. The updates are intended to clarify and modernize existing standards. These changes take into account recent legal developments and the […]
Read more
What You Need to Know About PWFA The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released the final regulations for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). These regulations, taking effect on June 18, 2024, update the PWFA rules put into place in 2023 and significantly impact how employers with at least 15 employees accommodate workers with […]
Read more
When Addiction Strikes at Work The issue of addiction in the workplace presents a complex challenge for both employers and employees. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects qualified individuals with disabilities, but active addiction itself isn’t necessarily covered. Here’s a breakdown of rights and responsibilities: Employee Rights Under the ADA Generally Not Covered: The […]
Read more
What is Considered “Reasonable”? What happens when an employee with a disability needs an adjustment to perform their job effectively? This is where reasonable accommodations come in. However, the question often arises: what exactly is considered “reasonable” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Striking a Balance The key is to find a balance between […]
Read more
It’s time for an ADA refresher! The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a cornerstone of civil rights legislation, ensuring equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities. As an employer, understanding your obligations under the ADA is crucial. Here’s a breakdown of the key points: What qualifies as a disability? The ADA defines a person […]
Read more
Forced to listen? Imagine this: Your boss calls a mandatory meeting. Instead of discussing work tasks, they spend the time telling you why you should support a political candidate or a particular religious view. That’s a captive audience meeting, and it’s becoming a hot-button issue. A captive audience meeting is a mandatory work meeting where […]
Read more
At some point during the election cycle, you may encounter employees wanting to display political propaganda at work.  This can range from flags and posters to social media posts and even conversations, and it can create a tense and uncomfortable atmosphere for colleagues with differing viewpoints. So, how do you maintain a respectful workplace while […]
Read more
An Employer’s Guide to Politics in the Workplace The current political climate can be divisive, and tension can easily spill over into the workplace. When employees hold vastly different political views, it can lead to arguments, hurt feelings, and a fractured work environment. So, what’s an employer’s responsibility when it comes to politics in the […]
Read more
An OSHA inspection can feel daunting, but understanding the process can empower you to get through it smoothly. This guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to ensure a collaborative and efficient experience for everyone involved. When might you encounter an OSHA inspector?  Imagine a concerned employee reports a potential safety hazard. Or […]
Read more

Download Our App


Download the Nextep Mobile App in Apple iOS or Google Play