New Marijuana Laws Don't Affect Employers' Rights: Zero-Tolerance Drug Policies Fully Enforceable

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Stoel Rives attorneys Brenda Baumgart and Jim Shore discuss in a Portland Business Journal article the workplace impact of continuing efforts at the state level to legalize and regulate medical and recreational marijuana use. Most recently, the Oregon legislature passed laws that would allow those with post-traumatic stress disorder to qualify as patients under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program and also legalize medical marijuana dispensaries.

Baumgart and Shore note that no state marijuana legalization action can prevent employers from enforcing zero-tolerance drug policies. Marijuana remains illegal for all purposes under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and federal law trumps state law on this issue. They caution, however, that many employees might be confused by publicity over state legalization efforts, and think "Oh, now I can smoke pot and go to work."

Accordingly, Baumgart and Shore recommend that employers, particularly those with multi-state operations, review their drug-testing policies and ensure that their decision-making human resources personnel and drug-testing labs know how to handle marijuana issues, including medical marijuana ones, as they arise.

Read the full article on the Portland Business Journal website (subscription required)

"The smoke clears: Zero-tolerance drug policies enforceable" was published by the Portland Business Journal, July 29, 2013.

Key Contributors

Brenda K. Baumgart
James M. Shore
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