Karen O’Connor and Emily Atmore Look at the Impact Evolving State Marijuana Laws May Have on Employer Policies


In an article for Bloomberg Law, labor and employment attorneys Karen O’Connor and Emily Atmore provide some considerations for employers that are navigating marijuana laws that have been enacted in many states. All but three have legalized or decriminalized marijuana in some form, including 23 that now allow the drug to be used recreationally.

The authors note that the courts have provided only limited guidance as to the applicability of the plethora of new laws, and they stress that employers need to “do their homework proactively” in order to stay in compliance with the laws and should be prepared to continually update policies and practices as the laws evolve.

Considerations for employers related to their drug-testing and drug-free workplace policies include:

  • Accommodation of medical marijuana use similarly to other lawful medications and drugs.
  • Applicable limitations on inquiries and drug testing, as well as requirements to implement a drug-free workplace program with drug testing for those employers that are federally funded or subject to federal authority and/or governed by the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.
  • Circumstances under which an employee may be disciplined and/or terminated for ingesting marijuana while working, or otherwise being intoxicated, impaired, or under the influence at the workplace.

O’Connor and Atmore conclude, “Employers should also be aware that state marijuana laws often impact workers’ compensation, unemployment, and OSHA protections and obligations and may require employers to revise those policies and practices as well.” If you have additional questions, please contact Karen O’Connor and Emily Atmore.

Read the full article here.

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