Currently, 26 states in the United States have legalized marijuana. However, the federal Controlled Substance Act (CSA) still designates marijuana as a Schedule I substance. This act criminalizes the possession, manufacture, distribution, and sale of marijuana. This Act has also created tension between federal and state governments, which has further led to confusion in many industries. Employees who use marijuana are in quite a dilemma. Legalization of marijuana is a concern to employers who want to maintain a sober workforce and substance free environment and at the same time protect worker’s rights. Here is what you need to know about marijuana legalization and your job.
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1. Zero Tolerance Policy.
If you live in a state that legalizes marijuana, you have to determine whether the Drug-Free Workplace Act regulates your workplace or not. This Act requires that all workplaces adopt a zero-tolerance policy and certify that the workplace is drug-free. However, the Act does not require employers to conduct mandatory drug tests. If an employer is not required to comply with the Act, he or she can institute a zero-tolerance policy for his workers in a “safety-sensitive” position. Here, the employee is responsible for his or her safety.
2. Prelude-Drug Testing.
Marijuana contains a compound known as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that can remain in your body for weeks after consuming marijuana. With specific tests such as a urinalysis conducted by experts can detect the presence of THC. Blood and saliva tests provide a more accurate reading. However, blood tests are more invasive and may violate employee’s rights to privacy, and the saliva test is still new. As such, urinalysis is the most popular test. Currently, workers who use marijuana have discovered a new way to cheat these tests. You can now purchase fake pee from the available stores to cheat your drug test.
3. Disability Discrimination Claims.
The Americans with Disability Act (ADA), prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified people due to disability. The ADA prohibits discrimination in the application process, hiring, advancement, training, and discharge. Employers should provide accommodations for persons with disabilities as long as the accommodations do not impose an undue hardship on the employer. The ADA does not cover any worker who uses illegal drugs. Recently, courts have wondered whether the ADA should cover employees who are under the legal use of medical marijuana. In states where there are no statutes that address the issue, courts have ruled that employers should not accommodate medical marijuana use under the ADA. However, some states, such as New York, address medical marijuana accommodation. In New York, a certified patient is deemed to have a “disability” under the state’s human rights law. In such states, employers cannot take any adverse action based on employee’s participation in medical marijuana programs.
Marijuana use in or near the workplace can lead to a loss of productivity or increase workplace accidents. Employers must adopt policies that protect their employees on the job. However, they must not violate the employee’s rights in the process.