Will Medical Marijuana Pose a Workplace Issue?

2014-03-11 14_00_42-State InfoWe are seeing it more and more states are beginning to ease back on the marijuana laws regarding medical marijuana.  So how does the effect of legalizing marijuana affect the workplace.  Many if not all workplaces has strict no drug policies – will this apply if you have a prescription to legally be “high?” Usually there is pre-employment testing and almost always if there is a workplace incident a drug and alcohol test ensues after the incident.

I am sure a large legal issue will arise from all this.  People who drive or work construction for a living need to be much more safe and conscious when doing their jobs.  If a worker injures themselves or someone else because they are under the influence or marijuana, yet they possess a legal card to do so does this give them exemption?  The other issue that arises is that even if a worker is legally allowed to use marijuana and does so on off hours when not at work then has a workplace incident and is sent for a drug test – there is a good chance that the test will show up positive as the metabolites of marijuana can stay in a persons system for weeks.  How can it be proven that they were high during work or that they used marijuana off hours.

Does this mean that employers will need to revisit their current drug policy?  Do employees need to make employers aware if they possess a marijuana card?  Will this have an impact on a new hire?  My belief is that the answer to all these questions is – yes.  Marijuana has been proven to slow a persons reaction times, so if I am applying for a job as a contractor and let them know that I can legally use marijuana – if I am the hiring manager I am going to be picky and put them to the bottom of my list as opposed to someone that I know will be sober.

Right now in Florida there is a push to legalize a strain of marijuana – Charlotte’s Web – the claim is that it could help people suffering from seizures could be helped by this.  This could be a huge break for those suffering from seizures if it really works.  Again though how will if affect people in their workplace?

Right now it is up to a company’s health care provider if they will pay for a prescription of marijuana on a company program.  It will be interesting to continue to watch and see as more and more states legalize marijuana will they begin to enact laws for the employers as well regarding employees who use marijuana.  I would love to get some feedback from our readers out there who have seen cases or claims of this and what was the outcome?

What's your take? Continue the discussion with others over at the WCInsights LinkedIn Group.
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