Marijuana in the Workplace

January 22, 2018

Since 2012, recreational marijuana laws have passed in eight states and Washington, D.C., but none of those laws allow residents to get high whenever and wherever they want, particularly not in the workplace. Every state that has passed a recreational marijuana law strictly regulates use of the drug by, for example, banning its use in public, regulating where it can be purchased and limiting how much can be grown at home. Importantly, no state law forces employers to tolerate on-the-job use.

Employers, however, have to be prepared for the fact that it is now much easier to obtain marijuana—and in new forms, Employers have to start being more mindful of changes in performance and indicators of intoxication.

Employer Points

Recreational marijuana should be treated like recreational alcohol, with the additional understanding that unlike alcohol, marijuana is still illegal under federal law..

Employers should note that a few states—such as Massachusetts and New York— afford protections to registered medical marijuana users and may require that employers engage in an interactive process to see if a reasonable accommodation can be made in some circumstances. In the majority of states, including California, employers don't have to make accommodations even for off-duty medicinal use. The underlying issue is that a medical marijuana cardholder may have an independently qualifying medical condition. Therefore, employers may want to engage in an interactive process even if it's not required by law.