It is hard to imagine that marijuana is legalized for medical use in 34 states, and 11 states have legalized recreational marijuana. Just five years ago, that would have been unheard of. Legalization initiatives are escalating with more and more states passing laws allowing the legal use of recreational marijuana. Unlike other substance 1 drugs, marijuana is in a precarious position of being an illegal federal drug yet a legal drug in many states. Federal requirements for drug-free workplaces still require employees to test negative for marijuana, yet many state laws allow a positive test for marijuana. Marijuana laws are evolving across the United States. Some state laws are legalizing medical marijuana only, while other states recognize marijuana as a legal recreational drug along with alcohol. Is marijuana illegal in your state? Are some companies no longer conducting drug testing for job applicants even if marijuana is illegal? What is an employer to do when marijuana is illegal based on federal law but may not be illegal based on state law? Does Cannabidiol (CBD) contain any TCH, the mind-altering element in marijuana, which would cause a worker to register positive for marijuana in a drug test? Does it matter? The answers to these questions may result in employers having a complex and confusing mess on their hands when dealing with drug use in the workplace. Employers are tasked with ensuring their work environment is safe and productive. Marijuana’s effect on workers runs the risk of comprising that safety. Is an employee who is taking medical marijuana protected under the federal American Disabilities Act or your state’s disability act? Does your company’s drug policy address issues around medical marijuana, recreational use of marijuana, and CBD?
2020 brings new state laws addressing recreational marijuana use and drug testing, medical marijuana in the workplace, and how the federal law against the use of marijuana may be in contrast to your state law. It is confusing to balance the changes in state laws. The confusion leads to fear that the workplace may be in violation of federal law while attempting to follow state laws. Uncertainty abounds regarding drug testing of recreational marijuana users and the length of time marijuana stays in the body. Some employers are finding that drug testing and detecting marijuana results in not hiring a candidate even if recreational marijuana is legal in their state.
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