The legalization of marijuana has become welcome news for some, but it’s causing headaches for employers. To help provide some guidance, the National Safety Council (NSC) has released a position statement supporting policies “to mitigate and eliminate the risks of cannabis (marijuana).”
Specifically, the document says:
- The NSC “believes there is no level of cannabis use that is safe or acceptable for employees who work in safety-sensitive positions.”
- Employees who tested positive for cannabis have 85% more injuries and 75% more absenteeisms than those who test negative.
- Cannabis affects the body in various ways. According to the NSC statement, “Experimental studies of subjects dosed with cannabis found [that] psychological effects include slowed fine motor skills, reddening of eyes, increased appetite, dry mouth, and increased heart rate. These effects contribute to impaired learning, short-term memory and attention deficits, and delayed decision-making.”
To date, 46 states and the District of Columbia (DC) have passed medical cannabis laws. Several states also have passed laws addressing recreational use. DC, plus Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, have adopted the most expansive laws for recreational marijuana use. Most other states allow for limited use of medical marijuana under specific circumstances.
Because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, you can prohibit its use by employees even in their homes and on nonworking hours and even if the employee is complying with state law and a physician’s recommendation, but you have to word the policy carefully.