Tag Archives: recreational marijuana

NEW LAW: Michigan Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

On November 6, 2018, voters in Michigan passed Proposal 18-1 (the “Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act,” which legalized the recreational use* of marijuana for individuals 21 and over.  With the passage of this new law, which goes into effect 10 days after election results are officially certified, there are now 10 states** (and Washington DC) that have legalized recreational marijuana.

While the new law certainly brings new concerns into the Michigan workplace, as employers will undoubtedly be concerned about how to respond to an employee’s use of marijuana outside of work, the new law contains several provisions that are helpful to employers. Continue reading NEW LAW: Michigan Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

NEW GUIDANCE: Vermont Attorney General Issues Guidance On Vermont’s Marijuana Law


The Vermont Attorney General recently issued the Guide to Vermont’s Laws on Marijuana in the Workplace, which provides employers with an overview of the changes to Vermont’s marijuana laws, and summarizes existing employment laws relating to drug testing in the workplace.

Vermont’s  recreational marijuana law legalized marijuana for recreational use starting July 1, 2018.  This new law left employers wondering what rights they had to control drug use within their workforce.  The new Guide clarifies that employers maintain certain rights with respect to employee drug use, including: Continue reading NEW GUIDANCE: Vermont Attorney General Issues Guidance On Vermont’s Marijuana Law

NEW LAW: Recreational Marijuana Legalized in Vermont

On January 22, 2018, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed House Bill 511 into law.  This new law legalizes the use (and possession) of marijuana for recreational purposes in Vermont starting July 1, 2018.

Under the new law, all penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana will be eliminated.  It also allows adults (persons over 20 years of age) to grow up to two mature and four immature marijuana plants.  The new law does not permit people to use marijuana in “public places” (e.g. streets, parks, public buildings, places of public accommodation and places where the use of tobacco products is prohibited).

Impact on Employers

The new law also makes it clear that the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes does not create any employment-related protections.  Specifically, the new law does not do any of the following:

  • Require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the workplace;
  • Prevent an employer from adopting a policy that prohibits the use of marijuana in the workplace;
  • Create a cause of action against an employer that discharges an employee for violating a policy that restricts or prohibits the use of marijuana by employees; or
  • Prevent an employer from prohibiting or otherwise regulating the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana on the employer’s premises.

What does this mean?  Simply put, Vermont employers are still permitted to prohibit employees from smoking pot in the workplace and/or from coming to work under the influence of marijuana. In addition, pre-employment drug testing and reasonable suspicion drug testing for marijuana use remain lawful. However, employers should remember that current drug tests only flag whether THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) is present in the individual’s system and does not determine the level of a tested individual’s impairment. This means that an individual can test positive for marijuana without being “high.” It is recommended that employers train frontline supervisors and managers will need to be more vigilant about documenting independent indications of impairment in the workplace such as unusual sleepiness, slowed perception and motor skills, and red eyes.

Is your state contemplating the legalization of marijuana?

Presidential election aside, there is something else equally important to employers on certain electoral ballots. Eight states are contemplating legalizing marijuana either for medicinal purposes or for recreational purposes. Is your state one of the eight who are contemplating this change?

Medical Marijuana Laws

Currently 25 states and DC have laws legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. On November 2, 2016, 3 more states will be subjecting their proposed medical marijuana laws to popular vote. Those states are: Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota.

Should these laws pass, here is how they could impact employers:

  • Arkansas
    • Employers cannot deny a “qualifying patient” “any right or privilege, including but not limited to a civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for medical use of cannabis in accordance with [the law].”
    • Employers cannot discriminate against a “qualifying patient” “in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize an individual, based upon the individual’s past or present status as a Qualifying Patient.”
    • Employers will not be required to
      • accommodate the use of marijuana in the workplace
      • permit an employee to work while under the influence of marijuana.
  • Florida
    • Employers will not be required to permit the use of marijuana in the workplace
  • North Dakota
    • Employers will not be required to permit the use of marijuana in the workplace

Recreational Marijuana

In addition, four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. On November 2, 2016, 5 more states will be subjecting their proposed medical marijuana laws to popular vote. Those states are: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

Should these laws pass, here is how they could impact employers:

  • Arizona
    • Employers will not be required to
      • Allow or accommodate the possession or use of marijuana in the workplace
      • Permit an employee to work while under the influence of marijuana.
    • Employers may still enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees
    • However, an employer cannot discipline an employee for an action solely because the employee tests positive for marijuana in a drug test
  • California
    • Employers will not be required to
      • Allow or accommodate the possession or use of marijuana in the workplace
      • Permit an employee to work while under the influence of marijuana.
    • Employers may still enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees and drug free workplace policies
  • Maine
    • Employers will not be required to
      • Allow or accommodate the possession or use of marijuana in the workplace
      • Permit an employee to work while under the influence of marijuana.
    • Employers may still enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees
    • However, employers cannot refuse to hire someone solely because that person used marijuana
  • Massachusetts
    • Employers will not be required to
      • Allow or accommodate the possession or use of marijuana in the workplace
      • Permit an employee to work while under the influence of marijuana.
    • Employers may still enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees
  • Nevada
    • Employers will not be required to
      • Allow or accommodate the possession or use of marijuana in the workplace
      • Permit an employee to work while under the influence of marijuana.
    • Employers may still enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees

Employers in these states should watch the election results carefully and be prepared to make some alterations to their drug policies to ensure they are compliant with any new laws that might be passed.