Canada may have set the bar in North America for legalizing cannabis. And many individual U.S. states have passed laws making medical and recreational marijuana legal for their residents, though it’s still federally illegal. But with these new regulations, how do employers keep up? How should your company be reacting to the legalization of marijuana policy based on the HR policies on drug and alcohol use you already have in place? Here are some different approaches employers are taking.
Zero Tolerance Policy
It’s important to note that even if marijuana is legal in your area, you can still enforce a zero-tolerance policy. This is similar to alcohol use rules that you probably already enforce to ensure your employees aren’t drinking on the job. As long as your policies aren’t discriminatory, you can absolutely ban use on the job.
However, even if you enforce a zero-tolerance policy, you must understand that medical marijuana falls under a different category. You cannot restrict the use of medical marijuana, just like you can’t ban other medications. Though the federal law might be complicated, this could be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities act if you decide to take action against an employee using medical marijuana.
Here’s where things get a little challenging. When marijuana was illegal, testing for the drug as a condition of employment was common. But now that it is legal in many places to use recreationally, drug testing may not be as useful as it once was. Instead, experts are suggesting that companies focus on job ability rather than drug use when determining the inability of new candidates.
Federal Vs. State Protections
What is important to note, especially in the US, is that state and federal governments do not currently agree on the status of cannabis. Now, it is still listed as a schedule 1 drug federally. But states are using an amendment that suggests the federal government can’t use federal money to interfere with the implementation of state laws. This will eventually be brought to federal courts and the outcome is still uncertain.
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