Legal marijuana will be here October 17, 2018. Whoever thought? What will this mean for employers or for the expected significant number of new recreational users who decide to partake now because it is ‘legal’? Nobody knows for sure how people’s views of marijuana will change now that it will be legal. For certain many people will be willing to try it out and this could lead to usage in the workplace.
I have heard many employers say, not to worry, we’ll treat it in the same way we treat alcohol. This is very short sighted in my view, as alcohol is not seen as medicinal in the same way cannabis is and the effects of marijuana are very different for each person and unlike alcohol there is no current consensus on safe limits for using cannabis. Also unlike alcohol, edible cannabis products leave no smell on the breath.
A zero tolerance policy can be problematic and even cause discrimination against those employees who use cannabis to treat or relieve the symptoms of a disability. However, in safety sensitive workplaces a zero tolerance policy could in fact be a requirement to operate safely.
How will employers know when an employee using cannabis is unable to do their jobs effectively? What will be the signs? …and what will an employer be able to do about it?
Perhaps with cannabis becoming legal, more people will seek it out as a means of dealing with their ailments and this may even increase the number of people registering to purchase medical marijuana. When people have a prescription for this and want to use it at work, what can employers do? Will benefit plans now be more accepting of medicinal marijuana?
The answer to many of these questions is that employers will need to have very clearly stated policies on cannabis use in the workplace, including detection methods, how to approach people without discriminating, knowing where the limits are, determining if the company is safety sensitive, etc.
All this to say, TwoGreySuits is currently working on a comprehensive set of marijuana in the workplace policies and will be ready to post before October 17, so stay tuned!
By: Ron Guest, Senior Partner, TwoGreySuits www.twogreysuits.com
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