Next year, a 16th state will enact regulations allowing use of medical marijuana. Even though these laws are becoming more prevalent, questions regarding users and workplace safety remain.
Arizona expects to have regulations allowing medical-marijuana use by late summer 2011. Voters OK’d the law in November’s election.
Doug Stegemoller, president of a construction company in Phoenix, told The Arizona Republic he has concerns about how the new law will impact worker safety.
The law would still allow Stegemoller to fire an employee for impaired performance due to pot use, but the problem is that impairment isn’t defined by law.
Unlike alcohol, there’s no standard for marijuana intoxication. Tests can measure the amount in a person’s system, but there are disputes about what constitutes intoxication because pot can stay in the body for weeks after use.
Employment issues addressed, but …
Arizona’s new law allows employers to terminate or take action against employees whose use of medical weed impairs their work.
But the law also bars employers from discriminating against these users.
It doesn’t necessarily help Arizona that 15 other states and Washington, D.C., have enacted similar laws already.
These other states are still struggling with many of the same issues. Resolving them often comes down to court battles.
And court cases in other states aren’t the answer either, because states have separate judicial systems.
If you have a drug testing program at your company, and you’re located in a state with a medical-marijuana law, what should you do? Here’s some advice from legal experts:
- Consult a lawyer
- Review your drug-testing policies
- Revisit employee rules about medical-marijuana use, and
- Be prepared to deal with workers who test positive for the drug.
Click here to get a summary of medical-marijuana laws by state.
Has your company addressed this situation? Let us know what you’ve done and what you think about this situation in the Comments Box below.