Why Marijuana Has No Place in the Workplace
Marijuana laws for both recreational and medicinal use are rapidly changing in the United States. There are currently 10 states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana and 22 additional states that allow medicinal use of the drug. It is now easier than ever for employees to obtain and use the substance in various formats, including: oils, brownies, candies and other food-infused substances. Employers need to consider the possible negative effects of marijuana in the workplace and watch for changes in performance and indicators of intoxication. According to the National Safety Council, Employers need to be aware of these scary statistics:
- Car crashes involving marijuana went up 300% and they continue to rise as more states legalize the drug.
- Marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 148% since the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Other negative effects of marijuana use include: altered sense of time, impaired body movement, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, altered depth perception, altered reaction time, and impaired coordination and other motor skills. In a manufacturing setting using heavy machinery, these effects could have deadly consequences. Christine Clearwater, president of Drug-free Solutions Group says, “marijuana legalization should not lead to more lenient employer drug policies”. She says the highly politicized battle over marijuana laws can drown out statistics employers should be aware of.
No state law forces employers to tolerate on-the-job use. The fact is, all marijuana use is still illegal at the federal level. Employers are still permitted to enforce a zero-tolerance/drug-free workplace policy. Employers can: refuse to hire, discharge, discipline, or otherwise take adverse employment action against a person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of that person’s violation of a workplace drug policy. Employers in states with a reasonable accommodation act relating to the medicinal use of marijuana are encouraged to seek legal counsel and open the conversation with the employee to address any issues ahead of time.