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Maintaining a Drug-Free Workplace When Marijuana is Legal

It may sound counterintuitive to try and maintain a drug-free workplace when marijuana is legal in your area, but it can be done. There are some things that you have to decide insofar as to how you want to handle them and the repercussions that can come from the ways in which you handle them.

For example, if you choose to accept one drug (marijuana) because it is legal, you may not be aware of whether or not your employees use it for medical or nonmedical purposes. If this is the case, then you can’t really crack down on them for using the drug recreationally if you aren’t sure that they are, in fact, doing that, or if they are only using it because they need it for medical reasons.

Another problem that accepting one drug in the workplace creates is that your employees may see that as the allowance of all recreational drugs being permitted. You will need to clearly establish the boundaries for your marijuana policy, as well as your defense of the policy if your employees try to advocate for a more progressive attitude toward more drugs than just marijuana.

However, if your company is federally funded, then your hands may be tied on the issue of marijuana acceptance in the workplace, whether you want to permit it or not. This is because marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug insofar as the government is concerned. Federally funded organizations must maintain a zero-tolerance policy on any drug - even potentially legalized marijuana.

Interestingly, you may want to keep in consideration the fact that a full-time job with a zero-tolerance policy can actually help your employees fight their addictions. If they can’t openly abuse a drug in the lunchroom or by the entrance (in the case of smoking a joint), then it may be harder for them to squeeze the drug into their daily work schedule. In maintaining a zero-tolerance policy, the employer becomes a viable support system in helping employees overcome their substance abuse, as opposed to acting as their enablers.

Granted, not everyone who takes drugs is addicted to them. Statistics show that about one in 10 adults who use drugs on a regular basis are actually addicted to them. However, over 55 percent of those adults who do admit to a substance abuse problem work full-time jobs. Taking the above point into account insofar as full-time jobs being support systems and not enablers, that is a lot of drug addicts that employers can help by simply saying “no” to any and all drugs being consumed on campus.

The employer can regularly check its staff to ensure that employees are following a zero-tolerance policy by issuing random drug tests on a quarterly basis Should an employee test positive for drugs on one of these random occasions, the employer may choose to suspend the employee for 30 days, with or without pay, to send a clear message that drug use will not be tolerated in the workplace.