Medical marijuana is now legal in many states and many other states are considering legalizing it. This creates a host of issues and questions, legal and otherwise, that employers must address. This also affects workplace issues and policies. And since each state is different, how do you know how your state laws vs. federal laws affect the issue? It is confusing but this is an area where it is critically important to understand and to act accordingly.
The Federal government has classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug putting it in the same category as heroin. However, many states have legalized it for medical uses. And to make it even more confusing, employers can fire or refuse to hire employees for using medical marijuana. This can be done without going against the Americans with Disabilities Act or any other federal anti-discrimination statue. So, as an employer how do you know what to do regarding your company policy, your rights as to hiring and firing for employee use, and your legal rights so you don't get sued? The first and most important step is to develop a strong policy covering these issues. Your HR department as well as your legal team should be involved in the development of your policies.
As a former narcotics officer and a security and HR expert for over 40 years, here are my suggestions for the important things to consider when developing a medical marijuana policy:
Protecting your workplace, employees and clients is the most important issue. Medical marijuana is a legal and necessary protocol for many who suffer from various issues. While there is no single right answer for you, the most important thing is to maintain safety for everyone. Creating a solid workplace policy on this issue is the first step to achieving this goal.
Timothy A. Dimoff is President of SACS Consulting, Inc., a high-risk security consulting firm headquartered in Akron, Ohio. He is a nationally renowned speaker, author, consultant and trainer. His latest book is Life Rage an incisive and illuminating examination of the "rages" prevalent in American society today.
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