Staying ahead of new cannabis laws

Legal opinions are starting to come in as to how employers in states that allow medicinal cannabis may choose to handle the new challenges the situation brings. From in a piece titled “Staying Ahead of New Cannabis Laws,” Industry Week says:

Policies that focus on impairment rather than an outright ban on marijuana use are generally favored. Employers should ask medical-marijuana-using employees to acknowledge they will not consume the product during work hours or onsite and will not perform work functions while impaired. Furthermore, employers must consider the scope of the employee’s job functions and proactively examine whether a safety risk would arise if an employee treating with medical marijuana is permitted to perform certain job functions.

Many employers are concerned with their own liability for any misconduct an employee may engage in while under the influence of cannabis. Notably, each state has different laws imposing different standards governing the employee/employer relationships in this context. Preliminarily, employers should be careful to restrict employees who are medical marijuana users from performing tasks that create significant safety hazards. Generally speaking, an employer will be liable for the actions of an employee who is acting within the scope and course of his or her employment at the time of the misconduct.

TMA News Bulletin dealt with this topic in February 2018, saying in part –

A recent study published in The New York Times showed that up to half of good-paying factory job applicants in the upper Midwest fail required drug tests. Drug use and abuse is draining the talent pool – not only from increasing use of marijuana, but also abuse of prescription opioids and alcohol. In states like Illinois with exceptionally high workers’ compensation insurance rates, accidents involving staff under the influence of drugs could financially devastate a company.

“Due to the high accident rates in the manufacturing industry, it is vital for management to take necessary steps to implement programs and procedures that will increase manufacturing safety and worker productivity,” the drug testing service Confirm Biosciences reports.

On the other hand, Illinois’ current medical marijuana law prohibits employers from discriminating if an applicant or employee is a registered medical marijuana patient.

It’s a topic about which more and more employers are seeking advice as to how they should handle with employees. TMA can help.

Call TMA’s HR help line at 866-691-0450 or email at