With the midterm elections over, we have the addition of three states that have legalized marijuana. DC, Oregon and Alaska have now joined the ranks of WA and CO to allow their residents to legally smoke and carry marijuana on their person. CA is slated as the next state to have this question on their ballot.
What does this mean in the workplace? CO Supreme Court is hearing a case regarding marijuana usage by a worker. It's outcome should set the guidelines for how companies may proceed regarding non-DOT drug testing. CO has strict regulations that prohibit you from penalizing a worker in a random test found to have used marijuana unless they are in a safety sensitive function or the position has a bona fide occupational qualifications. Pr-employment and reasonable suspicion is still allowed. However, to fire an employee for marijuana usage, outside of these parameters, the worker basically has to be stoned or using on the job. If CO has this rule in place, you can be sure that the other 4 states have similar regulations or protections for the workers as well.
DOT required drug and alcohol testing supersede these state regulations. The concern is for companies who wish to implement an across the board testing program for all drivers or all workers. In many cases, their hands are tied. In an age where we are all pushing safety; this is quite the ironic twist.
Do you feel safe working next to a person who may be "stoned"? Do you want to be on the highway with someone in a vehicle next to you who is impaired? While that driver may be operating something under 26,000 lbs; it is still a vehicle in motion. While placing someone in jail for having a joint on their person is not practical; neither is allowing someone under the influence to be operating machinery.
I am anxious to see the outcome of the CO case. I know this is a hot topic with many different perspectives. How do you think that the spread of legalization of marijuana will affect workplace safety in the long term? Your comments are welcomed!
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