On May 21, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation that decriminalizes marijuana possession, joining a majority of states that have ceased treating the drug as a criminal offense. Here’s what employers in Virginia need to know about these changes once they go into effect on July 1.

As employers across the nation begin the process of reactivating their workforce, they must develop and implement appropriate policies and procedures that follow Federal, State, and local regulations, guidance, and industry best practices.  As an employer in our country, you must provide a safe and effective workplace for your employees. Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Occupational Safety and Health Act dates back to 1970.

As it stands today, 33 states and Washington D.C. have authorized the medical use of marijuana. Eleven of those states and Washington, D.C also allow the personal ‘adult-use’ of marijuana.  With 2020 being a presidential election year, efforts to include marijuana on this years’ ballot are rampant! While most of the past marijuana laws where approved by a majority vote of the people, a trend that we expect to see more are legalization efforts through state Legislature actions. 

With legal marijuana use laws continuing to make traction throughout the U.S., and the perception of a dwindling job applicant pool, some employers are asking if they should continue to conduct screening for marijuana. Some employers are also challenging the entire idea of performing drug testing in their workplaces.  Is there still a benefit to having a drug-free workplace program?

In short, the answer is, “YES!”  Why? Because the risks of not testing are real. There is no mystery why this is so, look at the latest statistics:

Ringing in a new year brings new requirements for employers managing their workplace drug and alcohol screening programs. From state-specific laws to changes at the federal level, it is critical to understand these changes and make the appropriate internal adjustments to ensure your compliance.

State Laws

Several states, and one city, have new laws that employers must comply with here in the new year. Below is a summary of the significant changes:

Illinois

As we begin a new decade in 2020, here’s a look back at the most popular posts from the previous year. 2019 was a year with a heightened focus on compliance for employers as I-9 and E-Verify updates are enacted combined with no shortage of state marijuana legislation limiting how employers can drug test their workforce. The nursing talent shortage, healthcare compliance and recruitment conference takeaways, workforce diversity, and employment drug testing are all topics that were most popular among our readers in the past year.

Understanding the Role of Reasonable Suspicion Testing

Reasonable suspicion drug testing has long been a common practice and useful tool for enforcing drug-free workplaces. It’s a fair and reliable testing method that can both dissuade and detect drug and alcohol use. It’s also an issue of Individual privacy versus an employer’s responsibility for maintaining a safe workplace. With the trend of new laws (marijuana, etc.) impacting when or under what circumstances employers can conduct a drug test, the role of reasonable suspicion has never been more critical than ever before.

3 Takeaways from the 2019 ASHHRA Conference

The 2019 American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) Conference took place this past week in the Windy City of Chicago, Illinois. This year’s theme was “Connect. Innovate. Transform.” In the midst of constant change in the healthcare field, fostering professional connections is more important than ever before. Sarah Fredrickson, ASHHRA President, discussed how healthcare HR must lead an engaged workforce to innovate.

Why Random Drug Testing Makes Sense for Healthcare Employers

While mandatory random employee drug testing is common in safety-sensitive positions, the vast majority of healthcare professionals who are responsible for patient care are not subject to any kind of monitoring for substance abuse. 

Drug testing remains an essential part of workplace safety, providing numerous benefits to employers, regardless of industry. While random drug testing provides an extra layer of safety, it is not very common in the healthcare industry.

In the early years of state medical marijuana rulemaking, the language of the laws largely excluded the workplace. It is safe to say that tide has turned, and employers now face limitations unlike they ever have before. State-specific rules related to medical and personal use of marijuana are changing at a very rapid pace, and the language of these laws differ from each other significantly.  Employers must be sure their drug testing programs accurately reflect the rules that impact them in each of the states’ where they operate.

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