Marijuana in the Workplace?

On New Year’s Day, 2013, Massachusetts joined Rhode Island in legalizing the possession of and use of marijuana for “approved” medical purposes.  Employers would be wise to adjust their policies to accommodate this change in the law.

 

Some questions to consider:

  • How does this affect an employer’s policy of a drug free workplace?
  • Does an employer have to permit the consumption of “medical marijuana” at work?
  • What if the employee appears impaired?
  • Must the employer’s insurance policy cover “medical marijuana”?

 

The final regulations may not be available for several months to answer that question.  However, Rhode Island’s established rules may prove useful to Bay State employers in the interim.

 

  • Nothing in the laws requires “an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace.”  Furthermore, “a government medical assistance program or private health insurer” is not required to “reimburse a person for costs associated with the use of marijuana.”
  • Nothing in the laws absolves an employer from maintaining a safe workplace.
  • However, no employer may refuse to hire a candidate because of his/her “status” as an approved user of medical marijuana.

 

My opinion only: this appears to place the user of medical marijuana in the same category as a user of powerful painkillers.  The employer may require a doctor’s release.

 

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