Marijuana Laws Are Changing. Are Your Company Policies?

By Jezabel Southard

Posted on September 29, 2017

The battle over recreational marijuana use continues to rage in the United States, with several states—including Oregon and Washington—voting in favor of allowing recreational use of the drug by adults of a legal age to do so.

When marijuana use becomes acceptable, however, companies have questions. How should our policies change? What can we do if we find out an employee is using marijuana at home? What can we do if they brought their marijuana to work with them?

Here are several points to consider when updating your company’s policies to reflect these societal changes. Remember to talk to a licensed attorney if you have questions about your specific policies or employees.

Do we have to tolerate employees’ marijuana use on the job?

Any law in Oregon or Washington that prohibits employees from showing up to work impaired by alcohol or drugs applies to marijuana as well. For instance, the Oregon Drug-Free Workplace Act requires employers to prohibit the use of certain drugs in the workplace and allows employers to address situations in which a worker is visibly impaired by drug use. Marijuana is still included under this law, even if its recreational use is legal in some circumstances.

Can we prohibit employees from bringing their marijuana to work with them?

Even when no specific law is in place, employers in Oregon and Washington have broad discretion to create policies stating what types of substances may be brought onto their premises—including into parking lots or structures where employee vehicles may be parked. Consider clarifying in your company’s policies that marijuana, alcohol and similar substances may not be present on the premises.

What can we do about impaired behavior, marijuana smells, etc.?

When updating company policies, focus on behaviors, rather than trying to guess at their cause. For instance, if an employee is acting impaired in a way that visibly prevents them from doing their job, focus on how to address this behavior and the consequences of it, rather than on the cause of the impairment. Similarly, concerns about smells can be addressed by creating a comprehensive scent-free workplace policy and requiring all employees to adhere to it.

Frequently evaluating and adjusting your company policies will help you ensure your organization is functioning as smoothly as possible. If you feel unsure about how to proceed, talk with your recruiter about your policies. Their industry and market knowledge can be an invaluable tool to help you structure a policy that sets up your company and your employees for success.

At TERRA Staffing, our recruiters strive to help each of our clients find the candidates they need to keep their workplace culture thriving and productive. Contact us today to learn more about our staffing services in Seattle, Portland and Phoenix.

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