Uncharted Waters: Medical Marijuana & the Workplace
On April 1, Nevada's law allowing medical marijuana took effect. Currently, 21 states and DC have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana. ProCon.org offers a chart that allows you to track state laws, fees, and possession limits.
Jennifer Robinson explores the Nevada issue in her article Haze surrounds how state’s new medical marijuana law will affect employers, employees in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Her article depicts the current state of confusion about the effect of the laws:
"If you don’t understand how the state’s new medical marijuana law will affect employers and employees, don’t feel bad.
Labor lawyers say they’re not sure how the rules will work, either.
Sure, the law formalizes some rights of people who have a doctor’s OK to smoke pot for medical reasons. But thanks to its conflict with federal law, which still says pot use is always illegal, the statute’s application to the workplace is hazier than the air in a roomful of tokers."
This conflict with federal law is inherent in virtually every state regulation. There are other key issues that will emerge as well: discrimination, accommodation and more. It's important for HR managers and employers to stay current on this breaking issue, particularly as case law emerges related to these conflicts. While courts have been sympathetic to employers, new cases continue to surface, such as the suit against NJ Transit for suspending an employee in a medical marijuana program. This case involves a 57-year-old Newark man with end stage renal failure is suing his employer for suspending him and sending him into rehab. When he was bumped from his prior position, he sought a transfer to a non-safety sensitive job which required a drug test, the results of which were positive and led to a suspension.
Here are some other recent articles that offer perspective on various aspects of medical marijuana and the workplace.
In the April issue of Risk Management magazine, Lori Widmer looks at the implications of marijuana legalization on the workplace, noting one area in particular that raises concerns:
"Not everyone in the insurance industry is thrilled about marijuana going mainstream. In fact, the National Council on Compensation Insurance named medical marijuana one of the top issues for workers compensation in 2014, and insurers are already seeing an increase in workers comp claims related to medical marijuana."
Employment law attorneys Timothy P. Van Dyck and Nathanael J.C. Nichols explore the issues further in their article Marijuana and the Workplace: A Potpourri of Conflicting Laws for Employers, which offers steps employers should take when regulating marijuana use for the workplace.
Employment law attorney Richard D. Alaniz offers an overview of the issue and recent case law in Legal Marijuana and Employment Law: What Businesses Need to Know
Employment law attorney Jon Hyman looks at Medical marijuana and the Americans with Disabilities Act
USA Today: Legal pot becomes a touchy workplace issue
Legal Marijuana Use Can Still Get You Fired.
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