Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Nov 16, 2012

Washington’s New Marijuana Law and the Workplace

Q&ADrug and Alcohol 

Q: My maintenance guy just told me that the production floor is all a buzz (no pun intended) about the new marijuana law. Everyone wants to know what [we] will do if someone has a work related injury (our policy states you have to have a drug test while being treated at the clinic) and test positive for pot; assuming the pot usage happened the night before at home because now it’s legal.

A: First, the new law doesn’t take effect until December 6, 2012, at which time the only provisions of the law that will go into effect are:

1. That individuals over 21 in Washington cannot be arrested under state law for possessing a small amount of marijuana for personal use; and

2. The new state threshold of 5 nanograms of THC (the main psychoactive substance in marijuana) per milliliter for purposes of DUI.

Nothing else can happen until the state issues regulations and the federal government decides what to do (remember that use, possession and sale of marijuana are still illegal under federal law). If and when the law takes full effect, it offers employees no employment protections and therefore will not trump your substance abuse and drug testing policies. An employee who smokes pot at work or whose drug test shows a detectable amount of THC in their systems from smoking pot off-the-job can still be held in violation of your policy and be subjected to discipline. Contact your legal experts at Vigilant to learn more.

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