Recreational Marijuana Use and the Workplace

Recreational Marijuana Use and the Workplace

Just in case you missed it, the November 2012 elections legalized recreational use of marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington. If you enjoy reading legislative documents, you can find marijuana laws in your state here. Many employers now ask how these new laws will affect their drug-free work policies; and it will be very interesting to watch this unfold as employers try to balance federal and state requirements.

As lawmakers in Colorado and Washington continue the process of determining how to enforce these new laws, it will be important for employers to go back to their policies and review the expectations they set for their employees. Be specific about your expectations for marijuana if you aren't already doing so; and be prepared for the hard questions. For example, is it okay for employees to use marijuana on their lunch break? What would you do if an employee tests positive on a random drug test yet insists that they smoked last night and not while "on-the-clock?"

There is not any case law specific to recreational use just yet so work with your legal counsel to inform you how the laws affect your organization and to help you build a solid policy that protects your company's interests. In the policy, identify what the prohibited drugs are, the circumstances under which a drug screen may be conducted, and the repercussions for failing a drug test. This way, employees are aware of the consequences of their actions as it relates to their employers.

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Photo credit: Katherine Hitt