Twenty states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized possession of marijuana for medical use.
Van Dyck and Nathanael Nichols, attorneys at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP in Boston.
Although state laws vary, what is true in every state is that these laws don’t require employers to permit drug use in the workplace or tolerate employees who report to work under the influence, according to Ingrid Fredeen, J.
D., vice president of advisory services at NAVEX Global.
“When employees walk on to the job, they become an employer’s responsibility,” she said.
“Use that impacts an employee’s ability to do their job, quickly and legitimately becomes a concern for the employer.”She pointed out that alcohol use is legal, but companies have a right to prohibit employees from working under the influence of this substance.
So, therefore, employers certainly may institute drug-free-workplace policies, which, she noted, “are in place to help ensure that employees come to work ready and able to work and that they don’t endanger others while they are working.” But beyond that, the issues become more complex, and sometimes more difficult to resolve, Fredeen said.For multistate employers the issue is even more complex.“Reconciling varying state laws on everything from legalization, permitted use and lawful drug testing is a challenge,” she added.Three states, Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island, have laws prohibiting organizations from discriminating against workers solely based on their status as medical marijuana patients.Arizona and Delaware go even further, barring employers from discriminating against registered and qualifying patients who test positive for marijuana, with an exception for employees who are impaired in the workplace.Some states explicitly exempt businesses from accommodating marijuana use in or around the workplace.