What legal pot means in the workplace

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Michigan should put employers on notice to make policies clear to job candidates and employees, according to Trion Solutions, Inc., which manages the HR administration for about 150 small businesses in the state of Michigan.

Employers need to assess current drug policies and ensure they are both clearly described and communicated to employees, said Trion’s Chief Legal Officer James Baiers.

“The new law legalizing marijuana in Michigan does not supplant or override an employer’s policy to maintain a drug-free workplace – and does not prohibit an employer from disciplining or terminating an employee for violating its drug policy,” Baiers said.

“In fact, some businesses are required to maintain a drug-free workplace – such as those in transportation; operating heavy equipment and machinery; and, recipients of federal contracts or federal grants. It also is important to know that the new law does not require an employer to make any accommodations for medical marijuana.”

COO Craig Vanderburg said many companies’ policies that prohibit ‘illegal drugs’ in the workplace now need to be broadened and even no-smoking policies may need clarifying.

“The overriding concern we hear from our clients is they are getting many questions about whether some flexibility and leniency will exist at their workplace because of the new law,” Vanderburg said.
“We are working with them to ensure clarity and are encouraging them to communicate the policies to job candidates and current and future employees.”

David Stone, co-founder and president of Trion, said some businesses may decide to make some adjustments on how to screen and evaluate job candidates in order to hire the workers needed in their businesses.

“Marijuana can be detected by a drug test for 30 days or more after use, and results cannot currently pinpoint when the use occurred,” Stone said. “Pre-employment testing, reasonable-suspicion testing and random testing should all be re-evaluated in light of the new law.”

 

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