High times

Striving for a drug-free workplace in states that permit marijuana use


It seems with each election season or legislative session, another state passes a law legalizing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes or both. Indeed, 28 states have deemed medical marijuana legal, and eight states and the District of Columbia have deemed recreational marijuana use legal. Yet marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The conflict between state and federal law can be particularly vexing for roofing contractors.

State laws

Roofing contractors operating in states where marijuana use is legal often are confused and unsure about whether they can continue to discipline employees for marijuana use in accordance with drug-free workplace policies or need to accommodate marijuana in the workplace. The answer, of course, depends on the specific statutory language. But though certain states have enacted laws legalizing marijuana use, many laws only remove the state criminal penalties associated with marijuana use and do not provide employment protection for employees who use marijuana. Most state marijuana laws are clear employers are not required to permit or accommodate the use of marijuana in the workplace.

For example, in Colorado, employers are not required to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the workplace. In Washington state and Massachusetts, the law does not regulate the conduct of a private employer or protect an employee from being discharged because of authorized medical marijuana use and, instead, expressly provides employers are not required to accommodate any on-site medical use of marijuana.