Marijuana in the Workplace and What You Need to Know
With the New Year came the enforcement of Proposition 64; which legalizes Californians to recreationally consume cannabis marijuana on private property, carry up to an ounce and grow up to six plants. This new enforcement has the potential to cause confusion between employers and staff. What steps do you need to take to avoid conflict in the workplace?
Read further for 3 tips to addressing the new laws with your employees:
1: What is my first step?
First and foremost review your current employment policies and how you enforce them. See if there are any additional edits or changes needed to comply with Federal and State Regulations. Businesses in California maintain the right to enforce current policies adhering to employer drug-testing laws. The new law does not affect or eliminate an employer’s right to enforce drug-test policies.
2: What does this mean for my employees?
Go over current employment policies with your employees to avoid any misinterpretations or misconceptions. Be sure to enforce your business’s employment policies consistently to avoid any liability. When it comes to hiring new employees, federal law states an employer cannot discriminate on race, gender, religions, disabilities or health conditions. Alcohol, Marijuana and other drug use does not fall under these conditions; even if an employee uses medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor for a health condition or disability. California is an “at will” employment state, and therefore an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason.
3: What do I do when my employee asks: “How can I be fired for something that is legal?”
One thing you can reiterate to your employee is: “Just because you can buy alcohol does not mean you can come to work drunk.” Zero tolerance policies are still protected under this new law. Remind them that drug testing and policies prohibiting employee alcohol and drug use are enforced for everyone’s safety. Educate your staff on how marijuana affects the body to further help them understand zero tolerance policies.
Take the time to reiterate the facts and legal rights of employers and employees regarding Prop 64. You may also want to redistribute Employee handbooks and be prepared to answer follow up questions regarding all of your policies and procedures. Make sure your policies are current and are clearly stated and understood by your staff. Whether your business drug tests or not, it is important to know how this new law may affect your employees and the workplace.