Medical Marijuana in the Workplace

icon  27 Jan, 2018  /  icon  0        Author: Chloe

Millions of Americans use medical marijuana. A fair percentage of these people are actively employed.Statisticshave shown that the numbers will keep increasing, simultaneously,as more states in the U.S. are advocating for the legalization of marijuana. California makes a “table-smashing” breakthrough with its new law (California Proposition 64)legalizing recreational weed, and reviewing past records of marijuana law offenders. Records show that as ofAugust 2017, medical marijuana users in California are approximately 1.53 million people.Progressive research and new knowledge about the medical benefits of marijuana are making more people opt for its use in treating various ailments. Corporate organizations are still not sure how to react to the situation.What implications does using medical marijuana in the workplace have on general ethic that guide employees? Employers and service providers are saddled with the obligation of accommodating the use of medical marijuana while ensuring a safe and secure working environment for all. Here, I will provide some best practices employers can adopt in carrying out this responsibility.

Users of medical marijuana in the workplace may increase significantly, following the new marijuana legalization act sweeping across the country. Employers and service providers are worried about it. But let us take a quick step back. Medical marijuana use is legalized in many states in America. Those who have been prescribed marijuana are protected under the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act. This exemption “prevents” employers from discriminating against workers that treat health conditions with marijuana. This also means a worker can smoke weed before getting on with his job, or during a break.So, employees will always be wary about the safety of workers using weed and work related issues such as productivity and punctuality.

Employersshould be made to understand, that smoking weed is not the only method of consumption. Marijuana comes in fresh, dried and oil-infused forms. It can be consumed in confectionery, beverage, or freshly prepared food.However, accommodating the use of medical marijuana in the workplacepresents a complex situation for employers. How then, can they engage in best practices in carrying out this obligation?

  • Determine the facts

Accommodating medical marijuana use in the workplacerequires each party’s interests to be considered.The  use of blanket rules and presumptions in judging situations cannot fly. For instance, the treatment (in this case the medicine being marijuana) of an ailment cannot be isolated from the ailment. On the one hand, this means that employers and service providers don’t have the legal rights to prohibit medical users of weed from bringing their prescriptions to work.On the other hand, workers who seek accommodation should be able to prove that they have a disability that requires he or she to be obliged. If the employer believes that a worker is not eligible for weed use accommodation, they will need to provide solid facts to why the worker’s request is rejected.

  • Provide rules according to situations

Cases of a worker asserting that he or she has a right to smoke in enclosed spaces (e.g. offices) may possible arise. Rejection of this kind of application may see the situation finding its way to the Human Rights Tribunal.The court may reject that application and advise instead, for the worker to take breaks from work when they need to smoke medical weed.Similarly, in an office setting, a medical weed smoker can be asked nicely, to take a few steps away from the rest of the gathering when smoking medical weed. Rules should be provided according to the context, facts, and evidence. Considerations for specific regulations and safety situationsshould also be in line with the same factors.

Apparently, employers in most states which medical weed has been legalized will still place restrictions on its use in offices and other working environments, most of their policies are likely to change in the future, with court decisions ruling in favor of medical weed users. In safety-sensitive situations,it will be reasonable for employers not to allow workers to use medical weed while working, or when they do establish solid evidence that workers are impaired. Notwithstanding, a clear policy that permits the medical use of weed at work; andwhich evaluates impairment, should be put in place, in all cases.Workers should be widely informed and sensitized about these policies for a balance of interests to be reached.

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