Peter Tosh was before his time.
Almost 40 years after his hit reggae song and album, the smoke is clearing and it looks like cannabis soon will be legal, in some form, in most states (the majority of the US population now lives in states that permit medical marijuana). In July, New York became the 22nd state to allow medical marijuana, in addition to two states – Colorado and Washington – that have approved its recreational use. And this past Sunday, the New York Times published an editorial and a slew of stories in favor of “ending prohibition” against marijuana nationwide.
You are probably saying to yourself, “Dude, all this evolution of sentiment and law creates a buzz of new issues for the workplace!”
Exactly. In addition to learning the law of the state(s) applicable to your workplace, employers and employees should review and anticipate three key issues: (1) whether to revise their drug use policies that ban marijuana, (2) whether to include marijuana in standard drug testing, and (3) what to do with employees with disabilities who are legally prescribed marijuana. Some state laws address these issues, some do not. And, despite the proliferation of state laws legalizing marijuana use for some purposes, federal law still makes marijuana use and possession a crime, and expressly prohibits its use in some occupations.
Michael Homans is a Labor & Employment attorney and founding partner of HomansPeck LLC. For more employment law updates, including news and links to important information pertaining to legal developments that may affect your business, subscribe to Michael’s blog, or follow him on Twitter @EmployLawUpdate.