Understanding the Legalization of Marijuana and the California Workplace
Posted on December 12, 2016
The recent election and passing of Proposition 64 in California which legalizes recreational use of marijuana by adults has many employers wondering how this affects their current policies and procedures regarding drug use and the maintaining of a drug-free workplace.
It is important for employers to know that Proposition may legalize adult recreational use of marijuana. However, it does still allow employers to enact and enforce workplace policies about drug use. Therefore, employer policies related to drug possession, use and impairment as well as testing do not need to be changed with the legalization of marijuana use in California.
Because marijuana use is illegal under federal law, employers may continue to prohibit the use, possession, and impairment at work, and may continue to test for use when appropriate.
If you are an employer who contracts with the government, you are required to maintain a drug-free workplace and certify that the business is drug-free. These employers must continue to comply with these drug-free workplace laws.
Pre-employment drug testing is also still legal and employers may conduct pre-employment drug testing of all applicants before hire and deny employment if the drug test comes back positive, even if the applicant was legally using medical marijuana.
Employers should take the opportunity to remind their employees of their company’s policies and procedures regarding maintaining a drug-free workplace. Employers should explicitly state that despite the passing of Proposition 64, marijuana is still prohibited.
Employees should also be reminded that impairment on the job is not tolerated, even if the impairment was due to using marijuana at home before coming to work. When reviewing existing policies or creating new ones, make sure your policy clearly states the company’s position on drugs in the workplace, including marijuana. Also, if you conduct pre-employment drug testing, inform all applicants of this policy and clarify that they will also be tested for marijuana use.
In creating or reviewing your drug-free workplace policy, make sure it bans the use, possession or sale of drugs in the workplace or on company property. It should also prohibit employees from being under the influence of an illegal or controlled substance while on the job, including alcohol and marijuana.
Supervisors should be trained on the policy and how to identify employees who may be under the influence and how to handle the situation. As with any company policy, it is important to follow the policy consistently and not allow any exceptions to the policy.
Lauren Sims is the author and a Principal HR Consultant with eqHR Solutions.
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