How Legal Sales Of Recreational Marijuana Will Affect Workplaces And Other Spaces

By Samantha Masunaga
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Does the legalization of recreational marijuana sales change drug testing policies for job applicants? NO…read on for more answers to questions surrounding the do’s and do-NOTS surrounding recreational marijuana.

Los Angeles Times

Legal sales of recreational marijuana began Monday in California, but big changes in the workplace or in public aren’t expected.

Michelle Lee Flores, partner at national law firm Cozen O’Connor who specializes in labor and employment law, said that while employees may think the new law could give them a pass, that’s not necessarily the case.

“I think there are a lot of employees that think that now it’s a get out of jail free card or ‘Now I have a right and therefore you cannot hinder that in any way’ and that’s just not true,” she said. “You have a right to buy alcohol, but we all understand we don’t come to work drunk.”

Does the legalization of recreational marijuana sales change drug testing policies for job applicants?

The new law “specifically does not change the legal status between employers and employees when it comes to drug testing and employment,” said Tamar Todd, legal affairs director for Drug Policy Alliance, a national drug law reform group that supported the 2016 passage of Proposition 64, which legalized the sale of recreational marijuana in California.

“You can still be drug-tested, and you could still be fired by your employer,” she said.

What should employers do now in terms of employee handbooks and company rules?

Flores said employers can still enforce so-called zero-tolerance drug policies.

“Those zero- tolerance policies are about safety in the workplace,” she said. “That’s a real issue, so we want to remember that simply because California law says it’s legal for recreational purposes doesn’t mean that safety goes out the window.”

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