In 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana use for those 21 and older. Voters in Oregon, a state which allows medical marijuana use, rejected recreational use in 2012.
States that currently allow medical marijuana use include Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana, and Washington. Rest assured, more are on the way.
The question is how do these statutes affect employers? The Colorado law states that “nothing in this section is intended to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the work place or to affect the ability of employers have policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees,” The Washington statute does not mention using marijuana in the employment setting.
Of course, federal law prohibits marijuana use, whether medicinal or recreational. Additionally, the Department of Transportation does not accept medical marijuana as an alternative medical explanation. Every decision on this issue agrees that private-sector employers can discipline, terminate, or not hire employees who test positive for marijuana even if properly used under state law. However, Connecticut’s law specifically bans employers from acting against workers who use medical marijuana off-duty. It will be interesting to see how this law is interpreted. For example, if somebody smoked a ton of weed one evening, and they come to work fuzzyheaded, would an employer have the right to test them? Or suppose they smoked on the way to work or during a break?
HR That Works members should check their state laws in the BNA State Law Summaries.