How to Revise your Employee Policy if Marijuana is Legalized

With several states voting on the legalization of marijuana this November, you’ll want to prepare your employee policy in case it passes in your state. As we stated in Employee Marijuana Use: Companies Still Have a Say, “so long as marijuana is deemed illegal under federal statues employers are within their rights to take action against employees, and even applicants”. While the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a memorandum also siding with federal law in 2015, as marijuana becomes legalized in more states, you might want to include language in your employee policy that further protects your company.

How your business chooses to respond to marijuana use will ultimately be an internal decision without state involvement, unless the nature of your work has additional federal oversights. To protect your business you should revisit your company policy to specify any potential gray areas regarding the use of marijuana by applicants as well as current employees. Any modifications made to your policy should be distributed to all staff for their own review so they can be educated on how your state’s legislative changes may impact their off the clock decision making. If your policy is already clearly written you may want to consider drafting an internal memo reminding employees about your company’s stance on the subject.

Whether you choose to enforce a drug-free or tolerant policy, you should work with your lawyer to develop clear, concise language that specifies the implications of your new written policy. To back that up, you should also check with your employment screening provider to see if they have adequate drug testing available.

A total of twenty-five states (and the District of Columbia) have already passed marijuana legislation (see map here). This November, according to The Washington Post, the following states will be voting on medical or recreational marijuana.

Recreational Use:

Medical Use:

Regardless of whether your company is stationed in the states that might pass their marijuana legislation this year, by including clear language in your employee policy and using an employment screening provider with drug testing, your company should be safe if similar legislation reaches your state. To cast your vote this election, be sure to register (if you haven’t already).

Do you already have written drug policies? Is your company drug-free, drug-tolerant, or anything in between?

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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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