While marijuana has been legalized in
across nearly half the United States, Congress still recognizes it in Schedule
I of the Controlled Substances Act that makes it illegal by federal
regulations. The U.S. Department of Justice has sent out numerous
letters to each state’s legal counsel letting
them know that despite passing legislation the federal government still
condemns the growing, distributing, and possessing in any capacity. Due to the
condemning nature of marijuana in the eyes of the federal government, no state
medical marijuana law requires employers to accommodate marijuana use while at
work or on duty. However, some state laws do prohibit discrimination based on
Federal law always trumps state law. When
drafting any type of policy based on medical marijuana, HR professionals need to consider
applicable federal laws. The Drug-Free
Workplace Act of 1988 is also something that you must take into
consideration if your company works under the Department of Transportation or
as a federal contractor. Since marijuana isn’t a legal substance under federal
law your company can lose the contract or grant given by Federal agencies.
HR professionals have to be cautious and
revise policies during these changing times; there will always be a grey area
when the issue of medical or legal marijuana arises. Not only do they have to
cater to state regulations, but they must keep up with ADA compliance when
sanctioning medical marijuana. There are no clear solutions to this problem, but employers should often
consider several factors with crafting responses as it relates to marijuana. Here
are factors to consider when determining the action you take against
those looking to use marijuana for recreation or medical purposes in the workplace:
Tolerance Policy. Just don’t allow it at all; especially
if you are required to be completely drug free under the Drug-Free Workplace
Act of 1988. Just say no for any
Weigh The Pros and Cons. Is fighting the issue
going to be worth it in the long run? The exposure of random drug testing may
or may not be worth it if you’re losing employees due to their medical or legal
use depending what state your company is operating in.
Offenses. If you believe someone is under the influence
and it’s affecting his or her job performance, document it. It’s much easier to
terminate an employee for working under the influence than it is for a
positive test, especially since the laws are grey.
Tell us your experience.
Do you work in a state where marijuana
is legal or for medical use only? Let us know how you handle the situation.
SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media.
She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs.
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