Why it’s time to rethink your corporate cannabis policy

As the country rethinks its relationship with cannabis, what impacts will it have on the workplace?

As more states continue to reconsider their laws and statutes on the recreational use of cannabis, we’re inching ever closer to a time in the United States when the long-illegal drug will no longer be banned on the federal level.

While it’s no secret that marijuana prohibition has had negative legal implications for many Americans, it’s also impacted employment opportunities for many as well. As the country rethinks its relationship with both recreational cannabis and therapeutic psychedelics like psilocybin, we should consider what impacts these trends will have on the workplace.

Reconsidering drug testing

While employers in many states reserve the right to drug test for employment purposes, cannabis testing can cause a somewhat murky situation. While employers should obviously be concerned if employees are under the influence of a mind-altering substance at work, a blood or urine test for cannabis can reveal metabolites related to the drug for weeks after consumption.

For a drug that’s on par with alcohol in many states, this doesn’t seem terribly effective or fair to employees who want to exercise their rights.

Some states already have protections in place for off-site cannabis use, and employers should instead look for signs of impairment if they suspect there is an issue rather than relying on increasingly outdated modes of testing.

If you are changing these policies, communicate both the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ behind the decision from a place of compassion and understanding. Remember that not every employee who uses cannabis does so for the same reason.

Communicating  federal and state laws

With laws differing so widely from state to state, this can cause confusion, particularly if an employee moves and isn’t up on their cannabis regulations.

For this reason, employers and employees alike should keep one eye on the federal movement toward the decriminalization of cannabis, along with another on their state’s shifting policies.  How you communicate your company’s stance on cannabis should always echo these laws.

However, it’s important to note the difference between decriminalization and legalization, and employers and employees alike should be aware of the statutes in place in their locales.

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.


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