Drug-Free Workplaces in the Legalization Era: How Your Small Business Can Adapt to Budding Cannabis Laws

How your small business can adapt to cannabis laws

Despite increased legalization laws and the growing normalization of cannabis use, many employers maintain strict no-drug policies, regardless of local regulations. Rigid drug testing mandates are still widely enforced in states like California, where recreational use has been legal for over five years. As legalization efforts move forward, the discrepancy between state law and workplace policies has created a disconnect, ultimately harming labor markets. Zero-tolerance perspectives on flower have caused employers to lose out on countless qualified prospective workers, as interested applicants may avoid harsh no-tolerance policies. 

To evade narrowing their access to talent, employers must modernize their policies and attitudes to include recreational use outside of work. Businesses are still obligated to prohibit impairment during work hours. However, in the same way an after-work beer is hardly frowned upon, you might consider giving workers free rein over their time outside the office. Many employers are adapting their drug-testing policies to rule out screening for bud and concentrate products altogether. Dropping the herb from pre-employment testing panels has proven to draw in more skilled prospective employees. 

Understand the intersection of weed and work performance 

After a long day’s work, hitting up a happy hour is a commonly accepted practice, so why is lighting up post-nine-to-five any different? Studies have shown there is virtually no connection between off-hours flower consumption and employee performance. In fact, numerous employees who turn to an evening toke for relaxation have shown improved workplace performance the next day. Working professionals who spend their offtime flocking to dispensaries and equipment retailers like MJ Arsenal can relieve work-related anxieties, returning to their jobs with a renewed sense of stamina. 

Revisit accommodation duties 

Employers have a legal obligation to accommodate those with disabilities. These accommodations may range from altering a work schedule or position to permitting CBD use at work. While these exceptions are not without limits, employers should carefully evaluate their state’s discrimination protections within cannabis laws. 

Update impairment policies 

Although you may choose to eliminate policies that discipline off-duty flower consumption, remain vigilant on prohibiting impairment during work hours. Maintaining a drug-free work ]environment may require retraining supervisors to recognize signs of impairment such as cloudy eyes or strong smell. A simple class on identifying smoking indicators may prevent life-threatening workplace injuries and distracted behavior. 

Keep an eye on regulatory developments 

While cannabis remains federally illegal, there is room for ambiguity in recreationally legal states. Regulations can be incredibly complicated for employers with a presence in multiple states with different legal frameworks. Enforcing a unilateral approach to herb products may not be worth a potential discrimination lawsuit from an employee, so employers should carefully curate policies. While courts have historically sided with employers who restrict consumption, you should be aware that legal proceedings are beginning to favor employees raising concerns over lawful use. 

Bottom line 

Adapting your businesses’ recreational drug-use policies is crucial to recruit and retain skilled talent. A tolerant perspective toward the budding plant supports the connection between smoking and improved work performance. Consistently revisiting your company drug policies will be crucial as recreational use continues to surge in popularity and legal acceptance.

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