Rules Regarding Marijuana in the Workplace in Legalized States

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While the entire United States has different laws based on what has been proposed and implemented in each individual state, some of these permit activity that is both illegal and may garner a prison sentence in another. This means that understanding what is permitted for work, home and public life is crucial to keeping within the lawful actions that have been legalized by lawmakers.

Knowing whether standard smoking and smoking other materials such as marijuana in legalized states is important. Many of these regulations at the job site are in the handbook, but some may have been expressed through memos, email or in team or company meetings.

For legalized states, there are a variety of laws that permit the use of marijuana, but many of these are for medicinal use or recreational use at home. When changes occur, they generally do not extent to public places, worksites or similar areas. This means even with the alterations to regulations, stipulations and implementation of laws, the usual worker is not permitted to smoke this substance while at work or on the grounds of the jobsite. This means that smoking marijuana where the individual works could still lead to being fired, reprimanded or penalized. It is best to ensure that the handbook is read thoroughly to ensure what rules apply with this type of smoking.

Drug Testing Policies

Even in states where marijuana is legal, many companies are keeping existing drug testing policies active. This means that random or regularly screened tests are completed for all employees or those that are randomly chosen. For those businesses where these drug tests have been halted or abolished for marijuana, they are keeping a close eye on laws and regulations that are still evolving within the country. Where the states have laws that permit the use of marijuana recreationally or medicinally, the drug test positive outcomes may not lead to termination for the employee, but if they are caught smoking t work, this may still be possible.

More than 24 states have legal medical marijuana projects and programs that permit persons to use this substance for a healthcare regimen. That means if they are drug tested positive for marijuana, they have a pass and should not be fired based on the health condition. Generally, a doctor’s note and approval is provided for these situations. However, the drug is still considered illegal through federal regulations, so this means that these persons may not be permitted to use marijuana when out of the state, even if they are not at a worksite. It may be important to hire a lawyer to ensure there are laws broken if the person needs to travel, and the drug is the only prescribed treatment for certain health problems.

Testing and Safety

Because marijuana is still illegal throughout the country, it is still possible for an employee to be fired for smoking the substance and it being in his or her system when he or she is drug tested. However, for legal states, these stipulations may be different enough that the employees are only tested for other drugs and marijuana is not considered a fireable offense. While a person that is high on a drug may be terminated if this is done before coming to work, there are exemptions in the states with legalized marijuana consumption. This means in these locations, it is still ok to smoke it at home, but it is not permitted at the workplace.

Safety at the jobsite is still of the utmost importance, and this means that drugs at work are prohibited. Safety cannot be compromised even when the drug has been legalized in the state. Coming to work impaired on a drug is not permitted, but it still happens. It has been found that about half of all drug tests screened since 2015 have come back positive for marijuana use even when there are strict rules against this activity. When the regulations at the company are implemented, it is possible some of these persons are terminated for the drug consumption prior to or during work hours.

Legal Assistance with Legal Marijuana

When the drug is legal in the state, it becomes complicated as to what applies at home, at work and in public. Those that go to work high from smoking or eating marijuana could be considered a danger to others. Because of this, they may be suspended without pay or terminated on the spot if a drug test comes back positive. It may be important to seek a lawyer’s assistance when there is a reason for drug consumption.


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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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