Marijuana & Changing Laws

There is no doubt, that laws surrounding the use of marijuana are rapidly changing throughout the country. As of today, there are 34 states plus the District of Columbia (D.C.) that allow the medical use of marijuana, 11 of those states and D.C. that have fully legalized its use recreationally. However, do not let this confuse you with the laws surrounding the workplace.

Nearly every state either specifically permits employers to ban the use of marijuana by their employees, or they do not have any applicable laws, which inevitably allows employers to develop internal policies banning the use of marijuana and THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets a person “high”.

So, what does this all mean to you? . . .

In nearly every state, an employer can test for and subsequently discipline any employee who test positive for marijuana or any other Federally illegal drug, also known as a Schedule I Drug. Even in Colorado, in almost every case an employer can terminate an employee for testing positive for THS, and companies do not have to accommodate for the use of medical marijuana at the workplace, unlike traditional disability laws.

The primary reason for this is because it is impossible for someone to determine how a certain level of THC in the body can affect a person’s impairment. Unlike alcohol and measuring a person’s blood alcohol level, there is no comparable test for THC. Therefore, any measurable level of THS in the body could lead to a level of impairedness that would prevent a worker from safely and or efficiently conducting their duties.

As you can image, this fact makes it critical for companies, especially those of you in safety-sensitive industries, to enforce drug free work zones, even in states that allow for the use of medical and/or recreational marijuana.