Hot Topic: Medical Marijuana & The Workplace
Think back 10, 20, 40 years ago when marijuana and medical marijuana were pretty taboo and if a trace of it showed up in a drug test, well, you were in deep trouble. Now that it's 2019 sliding into 2020, medical marijuana has now been legalized and accepted in multiple states with the possibility of other states to follow suit.
We won't divulge into the statistics and pros and cons of medical marijuana use, but the use of medical marijuana and its effects, or maybe lack thereof, in the workplace is a hot topic. For you, as the employer (or maybe you're an employee and want to know more about this topic), it's totally understandable why you'd have concerns of an employee's use of medical marijuana in and out of the workplace. You may be thinking 'Will it affect the employees' performance?' 'Could it affect the safety of the individual taking the medical marijuana or the safety of other employees?'
Let's dig in to find out the best way to approach this topic.
An article by shrm.org, discusses a few ways to approach the topic of employees and medical marijuana usage in the workplace. Employers could have a health specialist assess the employee or, the employer could communicate with the employee's doctor. Some workplace positions that do not require major safety precautions could allow medical marijuana usage outside of working hours. The policy should just read that employees may not show up impaired. More and more employers are getting rid of the drug testing policy unless a major accident happens or if someone is in a certain position.
The best advice we can provide for you in a situation like this? Communication and assessment that is in the best interest of the employee(s) and employer. As long as the state in which the medical marijuana is being used is legal, your job as an employer who has an employee using medical marijuana is to simply just work with them.
It may be a touchy subject, but, communication is key. It is important for the employee to understand the potential dangers of usage and/or impairment during the workday.
Final words on this topic - there is not a one size fits all solution for medical marijuana usage and the workplace. From an HR standpoint, the use of medical marijuana, as with any use of alcohol or prescription medicine, in an environment where there is heavy machinery or potentially dangerous equipment, is a bit of a big no-no from a safety perspective. However, not every job involves working with equipment or machinery, or with putting the lives of others in danger.