Employers: Be cool with Pot Policies!
With Illinois adopting medical marijuana and looking to legalize recreational marijuana, lots of questions will be arise about what policies employers should adopt. Imagine workers passing a joint (or a bag of spiked gummy bears) around the water cooler or sharing a joint after work. Will employees be allowed to bring their baggie into work? And what about refusing to hire people who test positive for weed. These are murky waters we are wading into and it’s happening across the country. For now, it’s probably wisest for most Illinois employers to take the high road when it comes to disciplining or refusing hire those who smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Illinois employers are allowed to implement a drug-free workplace policy that prohibits employees from possessing or using marijuana in the workplace and/or being impaired during working hours. And those provisions can apply even to those who hold medical marijuana cards under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, signed into law by former Governor Pat Quinn in 2013. However, only those employers that risk losing either a federal contract or federal funding for hiring those who use marijuana are permitted to discipline, or refuse to hire, a person who has a medical marijuana card or fails a pre-employment drug test because they use medical marijuana. The latter provision addresses the fact that marijuana stays in a person’s system up to a month after use.