Head Spinning from Marijuana Laws?

If you are experiencing a “Purple Haze” from the variety of state marijuana laws – at  least 29 states and counting — and trying to determine whether your employer must accommodate medical marijuana use, then we can help.

One of our best resources for evolving labor and employment laws, Wolters Kluwer, has just published a concise overview of the law in this area: “Smoky Lines: Whether to accommodate employees’ use of medicinal marijuana may now depend on state law.”

It notes important, safety-sensitive jobs in which accommodation is not required under federal law, covering employers in the trucking, aviation, maritime, railroad, transit and pipeline industries.  In addition, federal contractors subject to the Drug-Free Workplace Act must provide a drug-free workplace.

The rules get hazier at the state level, with only one state (Nevada) expressly requiring accommodation of medical marijuana.  In contrast, 16 states (including Pennsylvania and New Jersey) specifically provide that employers are not required to “accommodate” the use of medical marijuana during work hours or on work premises. Courts in some states, including Massachusetts, have held recently that employers do indeed have a duty to accommodate medical marijuana use, even if the statute is not clear on the point.

Suffice it to say that the law continues to evolve.  If you would like the full Wolters Kluwer report, please respond to me.

Michael Homans is a Labor & Employment attorney and Chair of the Litigation Department at Flaster Greenberg PC. 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.

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