Legalized weed can create confusion and frustration when it comes to hiring.

Prior to writing for Our Community Now, I used to work for a large, publicly-traded corporation in a state where marijuana is illegal and then transferred to their Colorado office a year later. Going from one state where cannabis is banned and then to a state where cannabis is welcomed created a bit of problem for the folks in HR. Company policy prohibited drug use of any kind and employees were subjected to random drug tests to ensure adherence. As someone who doesn’t smoke, I had no problem following the company drug policy, but it did raise the discussion of what to do when recreational or medicinal marijuana use is legalized when a company’s drug policy was created during prohibition.

Currently, those in federal jobs still can’t partake without getting fired, but what should hiring professionals in non-federal jobs do when it comes to cannabis?

map of legal and recreational marijuana use in united states

If your company is strapped for the availability of good employees, it may be worth considering revising your policies if cannabis is legal in your state. Your workplace drug policy could be amended to insist that no employee show up to work impaired and that managers or security personnel have the right to search for paraphernalia or perform a drug test with reasonable suspicion. 

But what about hiring individuals with a medical need for cannabis? With the rise of medicinal marijuana being more and more accepted as an alternative medicine over prescription drugs, it is still not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act because it remains illegal under federal law. Maine, for example, was the first state to protect an employee’s use of off-site marijuana use and, in doing so, sets the same standard as an employee having a few beers at home after work.    

As more states legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal use, employers with strict drug policies will have to spend more time and money recruiting from the candidate pool. 

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