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Cannabis Laws Protecting Employees

February 23, 2022 | posted by Abacus Payroll

With medical and recreational cannabis now legal in 18 states including New Jersey, New York, California, Virginia, Connecticut, Arizona, Colorado, and more, it is important to know how new laws regarding marijuana could impact your business.

Further Reading: Marijuana and Your Workplace – Developing an Effective Cannabis Policy


Drug-Testing and a Drug Free Workplace

With the legalization of recreational marijuana, employers cannot terminate or punish an employee simply because they use cannabis or test positive for THC. However, disciplining an employee for having cannabis or being under the influence of marijuana during work hours would be punishable in accordance with the business’s drug policy.

Setting A Clear Standard

It is important to have a policy in place that sets clear guidelines about having or using cannabis at work. Employers are able to set policies stating there is no cannabis use at the workplace and during work hours, including medical marijuana. Furthermore, employers will be permitted to drug test for THC upon reasonable suspicion of use of cannabis at work, reasonable suspicion of cannabis intoxication at work, following a workplace accident, and perform random tests and pre-employment testing.

Positive Test Does Not Suggest Currently Intoxicated

Employers should have a physical examination in place in order to confirm whether or not the employee is currently impaired. This evaluation must be completed by a person with a Certified Workplace Impairment Recognition Expert from the Cannabis Regulatory Commission. Employers and employees will be able to obtain this certification and will have to go through approved training and curriculum. Another option for employers is to hire an outside consultant with the proper certification to perform the physical evaluation.

Non-Discrimination Laws Protect Cannabis Users

Similar to the discrimination laws around medical marijuana use, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee or job applicant solely because of their use (or non-use) of marijuana. Also, employers cannot discriminate against an employee or applicant who has past cannabis-related drug offenses on their criminal background.

Federal Regulations

Cannabis is still illegal at the federal level. Therefore, federal contractors are not protected by the state’s laws on cannabis. Federal contractors who test positive for THC could be terminated solely for this reason.

Cannabis laws vary from state to state so be sure to check on your state’s specific rules. If you have any questions regarding cannabis in the workplace, contact our Abacus Payroll professionals.


About the Author: Abacus Payroll

Abacus Payroll, Inc. is a leading provider of payroll solutions for businesses of all sizes. Whether yours is a family-owned small business or a national corporation, we provide payroll, tax and other financial services on time and at an affordable price. Unlike other payroll providers, Abacus Payroll will assign your very own payroll specialist who will understand your payroll needs inside and out. So no more speaking to a different person each time, no more sitting on hold for hours and most importantly no more missed deadlines! Contact us today to see how we can help your business. You can count on us.