As state marijuana laws continue to grow and develop, employers must adjust to how they approach employee’s marijuana use off-duty for both medical and recreational purposes. Attitudes and laws toward marijuana use, regardless for recreational or medical reasons, have been rapidly changing and becoming more widely accepted in society and state laws. Marijuana is becoming a tricky issue in the workplace because as the drug becomes more popular and normalized across the nation, the more laws are changing at the state level. At this point in time, marijuana is legalized for medical use in 34 states and the District of Columbia, and 10 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana use.
Despite the widespread wave of marijuana legalization in the United States, marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law, which puts the substance in a precarious position as it is an illegal and legal drug. That is why it is more important than ever for employers to keep a close eye on whether their drug policies and drug testing practices comply with state laws. It could become an issue of discrimination/ableism if you deny someone accommodations or employment if they are legally allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes in certain states. Employers in the states that protect off-duty use of medical marijuana should update their zero tolerance drug policies to accommodate off-duty marijuana use for valid medical reasons. Along the same line, employers in the states that have legalized recreational marijuana should update their zero tolerance drug policies to emphasize the employer’s right to prohibit drug use in the workplace and to administer drug tests to ensure compliance with those policies. Marijuana a topic that is becoming unavoidable and it is important for employers to address the changing views and laws regarding marijuana and its impact on the workplace.