Employee Marijuana Use – Know the Laws - American Society of Employers - Susan Chance

EverythingPeople This Week!

Employee Marijuana Use – Know the Laws

As more and more states are legalizing the use of marijuana for medical use, recreational use, or both, employers are facing more challenges with maintaining workplace safety while avoiding the pitfalls of laws that are employee friendly to users of marijuana.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “One study among postal workers found that employees who tested positive for marijuana on a pre-employment urine drug test had 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries, and 75% greater absenteeism compared with those who tested negative for marijuana use.”

People typically think of workplace safety in terms of machinery, hi-los, and other equipment, but as workplace violence increases, it is worth noting that more than one study has linked the use of marijuana to increased psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis.

A person’s attention span, memory, or even their ability to learn can be negatively impacted by frequent use of marijuana and can last for days. While one’s cognitive skills go down, the number of worker compensation and unemployment claims go up.

While the majority of states have made marijuana legal in some form or another, they still allow zero-tolerance policies in the workplace allowing companies to fire employees for off-duty use. However, some states are creating protections for employees who use marijuana during non-working hours. About 15-20 states, and some cities, have some form of non-discrimination laws for medical marijuana users, and some of those states have even added reasonable accommodation requirements for employers.

Michigan does not currently have any laws providing employee protection for marijuana use even if the use is during non-working hours. The following states and cities have laws that protect the employment rights of recreational users:

  • Connecticut
  • Montana
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Nevada
  • Rhode Island
  • Atlanta
  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • Washington DC
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Rochester, NY
  • Richmond, VA
  • Isle, MN
  • Kansas City, MO
  • St. Louis, MO

The locations which have protections for medical marijuana users are:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Employers have the responsibility to know and follow the laws and should pay particular attention when there have work locations in multiple states. As always, employers must make sure their policies are in line with applicable laws.

Additional ASE Resources
ASE Handbook Services – If you need to review or add a drug testing policy to your handbook, ASE provides classes and consulting on employee handbook development. The next handbook class, Designing and Updating Employee Handbooks, will be held virtually September 14th.  Learn more and register here. For handbook development consulting and services, contact Michael Burns.

ASE Drug Screening - ASE can service all your drug screening needs and assist you with creating or updating a drug screening policy.  For more information contact Susan Chance.


Sources: nsc.org, natlawreview.com, nolo.com, canormlorg, shrm.org


Filter by Authors

Get the latest employment law updates at the Employment Law Briefing



Position your organization to THRIVE.

Become a Member Today