Cannabis and HR: What Employers Need to Know
The number of states permitting cannabis use is steadily increasing. This poses interesting challenges for employers and their HR teams around the country as technically cannabis still largely violates federal law. For employers, the number one goal of any legislation change or update (state or federal) is always employee safety.
Even if you are located in a state that has legalized recreational or medical cannabis, the employer or business is still able to prohibit employees from using cannabis at work or coming to work under the influence of cannabis, similar to restrictions placed on the use of alcohol and other drugs.
Cannabis comes in a variety of forms, including creams, oils, candies, and patches. The selection of available makes it easier for employees to obtain and harder for employers to identify cannabis-related indicators of intoxication.
To ensure your business is covered, in regard to employees who need or prefer to use cannabis, it is important to reinvest in your HR team and the related policies and procedures, to ensure a safe work environment for all employees.
Improve Drug Policies
Companies in states where cannabis has been legalized should consider having their HR team amend existing drug policies to clarify the business’s stance on the use of cannabis at work, or employees working/operating under the influence of cannabis. To enforce the policy, make sure the policy is not only justified but can be upheld according to state and federal law.
Adding this new policy to your existing handbook may not be enough to get the attention of all employees and managers. Instead, when the revised company handbook or a new policy is issued, offer a FAQs page, or hold a town hall to accommodate employee questions and concerns.
Be Interactive with Medical Exemptions
For states with legalized cannabis, medical exemptions can quickly muddy the water when it comes to cannabis. Employers do not necessarily have to tolerate employees who are under the influence of cannabis while on the job—especially if their intoxication poses a risk to other employees or themselves. It is best to take an interactive stance and engage the right parties to ensure everyone is on the same page about company policies, expectations, and medical exemption.
Maintain a Safe Environment
In positions where safety hazards are more likely, such as the operation of heavy machinery, tools, or driving, employers are encouraged to take a more firm approach when it comes to cannabis consumption. A single moment or lapse in judgment could cause the employee or another person serious injury. To combat these rare but serious instances, ensure managers are aware of how to handle inappropriate behavior during work hours and feel empowered to increase precautionary measures to avoid safety violations and mishaps.
As with any updated policy, communication is key. Make sure all employees are aware of what is being changed and why. Keeping management informed, also, and empowered to have conversations with employees is a great way to keep the conversation moving. Contact Vensure to learn more about preparing your business, HR department, and management team in states where cannabis is legal.