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Legalized marijuana, whether medical or recreational, is finding its roots nationwide. In those states that have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana, employers must understand the relevant legal developments and how they affect the workplace. Currently, 33 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana use, and 10 states have approved both its medical and recreational use. So, what does this mean for employers?
All marijuana use is still illegal under federal law. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means that it is deemed to have no medical value and a high potential for abuse. As such, this allows you to continue to consistently enforce your zero-tolerance drug policies, including as it applies to medical marijuana. Accordingly, you should be able to continue to send any employee to random or reasonable suspicion drug testing consistent with your policies and practices, and then enforce your disciplinary policies as it would not matter what kind of illegal drug – including medical marijuana – shows up in the individual’s system.
If you employ individuals in safety-sensitive positions or other jobs that require drug-testing under federal or state guidelines, you will almost certainly want to follow this recommendation. In some cases, you may be required to do so under federal law, such as Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. In other cases, you will want to do so in order to avoid the risk of having one of your employees cause an accident involving members of the public, coworkers, or simply themselves, which could lead to devastating consequences and employer liability. Any employee who has to drive as part of the job, even if not subject to DOT regulations, should be legally prohibited from being under the influence of marijuana.
Since the passing of the most recent amendment in Florida, employers have worried about what it could mean for drug use in the workplace. Until courts rule otherwise, companies must not tolerate testing positive for marijuana under the drug-free workplace.
Given what we know, there are still many lingering questions, such as:
- Should I still drug test?
- Can I refuse to hire an employee who uses medical marijuana?
- Do I have to accommodate an employee who uses medical marijuana?
- What effects of medical marijuana can be anticipated on a job site?
- How do I know if the medical marijuana use is valid?
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