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Legal Marijuana and Workplace Safety

February 21, 2017
In the News

How does an employer deal with an employee that exhibits diminished concentration, drowsiness, loss of coordination / balance and delayed reaction time / decision-making?  The answer to this question is certainly a hot topic as our Nation’s views regarding recreational drug use are changing.  What new challenges will employers face when trying to maintain workplace safety in an environment with changing drug laws?

We recommend that employers review their drug policy to ensure that it is clear to employees and candidates for hire, that even in states where the possession of marijuana is legal, there are still laws providing employers with the authority to impose drug prohibitions.  Employers, in other words, can have policies restricting the use of marijuana, even outside of the workplace. In states with relaxed drug laws, employees can still be terminated for violating their employer’s zero tolerance policy.  In fact section 6a of Colorado’s amendment 64 states, “Nothing in this section is intended to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use of marijuana in the workplace or to affect the ability of employers to have policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.”

From a Federal perspective, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 narcotic for which possession, distribution and cultivation are criminal acts.  Employees working in safety sensitive jobs, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle or employees working on Federal government contracts will be held accountable to the Federal standards.

While this topic will continue to raise controversy for some time to come, at least for now, nothing regarding marijuana and workplace safety has fundamentally changed.

Inteli-Safety Team

Our Inteli-Safety Team consists of seasoned safety professionals, business process experts, compliance specialists and market analysts who strive to provide valuable content to keep our readers informed. Our blog content focuses on technology, safety, regulatory and compliance trends, and other current events.

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