Employers operating in states that have legalized marijuana use may be having a tough time figuring out how to handle a worker who smoked pot the night before. The employee may or may not still be experiencing some of the effects when they punch in for work – whether they sit at a desk or operate heavy machinery.
A recent Paychex survey bears out this dilemma for employers: more than one-third of business owners with fewer than 500 employees say they are not yet prepared to manage the impact of legalized marijuana on the workplace — 34 percent say this regarding medical marijuana and 38 percent say this regarding marijuana for recreational use.
The respondents are slightly more prepared to manage legalized medical use than recreational use: 42 percent say they are very prepared to handle someone who smoked pot for medicinal reasons, while 39 percent say this for someone who just wanted to get high to relax. A quarter are somewhat prepared for both (24 percent for medical use and 23 percent for recreational use).
Broken down by industry, the professional services sector is the most prepared (70 percent) for medical use and the least prepared for recreational use (58 percent). Manufacturing and retail/wholesale are the most prepared industries for recreational use (tied at 64 percent), while manufacturing is the least prepared for medical use (64 percent).
While the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration continues to consider marijuana and marijuana-related products as Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, 46 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana or cannabidiol (CBD) with or without prescriptions (Paychex details state laws pertaining to marijuana, as well as other regulatory issues gaining traction at the state and local levels).
“While marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, the legislation in each jurisdiction varies and may require business owners, especially those operating in multiple states, to comply in different capacities,” says Paychex’s president and CEO Martin Mucci. “Developing appropriate policies for industries with employees operating heavy machinery, for example, may present unique challenges.”
A Paychex HR specialist or another business advisor can help employers develop appropriate drug policies that match their particular workplace needs, Mucci says.