Zero-tolerance policies go up in smoke.

Marijuana is now legal in some form in 28 states and D.C. What does this mean for workers compensation and your safety programs? Oklahoma is now facing the potential of joining the ever growing list. While state laws generally provide immunity from local criminal prosecution, this law will not provide employment protection.

The gray area we will face is refusal to hire or discrimination against those who use marijuana on their own time. Depending on the state if it is recreationally or medicinally approved, I believe we will run into some privacy protection issues. Generally, in most states, employers can prohibit on-duty employees from using marijuana for medicinal purposes.

If your employer or company has a safety program, now is the time to review and decide how you will respond. Remember there are laws designed to protect workers civil rights and could affect your policies. Civil Rights Act of 1964 and ADA of 1990 limit how far an employer can go to investigate drug usage. Federal Law still classifies marijuana as an illegal drug, how that will factor in, time will tell.

How to Avoid Legal Problems with Drug Testing Policy

  • Consult an employments lawyer
  • Clearly stipulate penalties for violations
  • Make sure every employee receives and signed a written copy of the policy
  • Obtain proper training in how to detect and respond to drug and alcohol abuse
  • Maintain detailed records of performance problems
  • Never accuse or confront in front of other employees
  • Try to get to know your employees
  • Stay involved
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