Employers in California must be mindful of both federal and state laws. This can get complicated because these laws can evolve frequently, especially when they pertain to marijuana. Although Californians can legally possess and use marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, federal law still classifies it as a Schedule I drug that has no medicinal use. This means that it’s possible for employers to face legal difficulties if they knowingly continue to employ workers who use marijuana. To keep your company out of legal entanglements, seek employment law advice from a labor attorney in San Jose, CA who is familiar with these matters.
Drug-Free Workplace Policies
Not all companies may be affected by the marijuana use of employees, as long as the substance is not taken to or used on the company’s campus. However, if your company is subject to the 1970 Federal Controlled Substances Act, it must have a Drug-Free Workplace Program in effect. Companies are subject to this law if they are nonprofits that receive federal grants (of any amount), or if they are for-profit entities that receive $100,000 or more in federal contracts. An employment lawyer can draft a drug-free workplace policy to include in your employee handbook.
Marijuana-Related Work Issues
Beyond the legal requirements, there are other issues for employers to consider. Employees who work while under the influence are more likely to be involved in workplace accidents. Their productivity may suffer, and the mere fact that some people are working under the influence of marijuana may affect the morale of the entire workplace.
Medical Marijuana Considerations
Labor attorneys are often asked if employers must make exceptions for workers who have a valid medical marijuana card. Remember that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Even under state law, California courts have made it clear that it’s within an employer’s rights to terminate or refuse to hire an individual who tests positive for marijuana, with or without a medical marijuana card.