Drug Testing in the Era of Marijuana Decriminalization

Marijuana Joint

The rapidly evolving legal landscape presents new challenges for employers, particularly those with offices and employees in several states. Employers must balance complying with often different federal and state laws, maintaining a safe work environment, and protecting employees’ rights.

Most employers have a zero-tolerance policy banning the use of alcohol and illegal substances for apparent safety reasons. However, new state laws can create additional problems partly because some company policies exclude prescription drugs when a worker informs the employer about using them.

On the one hand, some states require employers to accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana. States like Oklahoma prohibit an employer from taking adverse actions based on a medical marijuana card unless the employer is required to or would lose a benefit under federal law or regulations.

On the other hand, states like California and Ohio, where medical marijuana is decriminalized do not require accommodation of employee use. Developing a well-defined company policy on marijuana use can minimize the risk of harm to persons and property and decrease the likelihood that drug testing and disciplinary action arising from marijuana intoxication will expose the company to any liability.

If an employee tests positive for marijuana, the recourse available to an employer can vary under federal and state law. Rest assured that in all of the states, even those that have decriminalized medical marijuana use, federal prohibitions continue to prohibit operating under the influence of marijuana for certain occupations such as truck drivers and airline pilots.

If you haven’t reviewed your substance abuse policy recently, it might be time. Give our office a call and let’s talk about your policy and goals. Our compliance director has been in the industry for 26 years and is here to help you ensure compliance with both state and federal law.

Call us today at 1(800) 452-0030 ext. 0