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13 Nov

Introducing Cannabis Policies to Your Handbook

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“As of June 25, 2019, 14 states…have approved adult-use cannabis.” Additionally, “a total of 33 states…have approved a comprehensive, publicly available medical marijuana/cannabis program.”

Companies have to navigate the new cannabis legalization laws sweeping the country, making employee health and safety becomes increasingly more important. While many organizations have adopted some sort of “drug-free workplace policy,” some businesses have chosen to revamp their stance on legalized marijuana use for health and medicinal purposes. For this reason, updating your company handbook to include a policy around cannabis or legalized drug use is a topic of conversation.

A somewhat sensitive and complicated topic for both employees and employers, these changing laws can cause uncertainty in the workplace. Before getting started with revamping your company’s existing policies, or introducing a new policy on cannabis, make sure the HR team is educated on the topic of medically necessary cannabis, often handled similarly to any other medication.

Items to Consider:

  • The legalization of marijuana in one state does not mean that it is legal in another state, even if the business operates over multiple state lines.
  • If your organization is firm on maintaining its drug-free workplace policy, set some time aside to review the policy carefully and ensure it is worded properly and up-to-date.
  • Regardless of your business’s stance on cannabis legalization, ensure employees are aware and understand the policy by requesting employees to acknowledge the policy as part of the new hire onboarding program. If at any time your company needs to make changes to this or any other policy, you will need to write an addendum, ensure it is signed by all existing employees, and add the revised policy to the employee handbook.
  • Workers who operate heavy machinery or whose jobs require them to have a commercial driver license are still subject to the standard


Medical marijuana and drug testing policies may include any of the following points:

  • Testing procedures including reasonable suspicion, post-accident testing, and random testing*
  • Consequences for policy violation
  • Details around possession of cannabis or other drugs on work premises
  • Exceptions and/or a statement that the company will explore reasonable accommodations for medical cannabis users, subject to state and federal accommodation laws

As the handbook editing process comes to a close, it will be important to make sure the handbook remains in compliance with both federal and state laws prior to publishing internally to employees. Contact us to learn more about setting clear standards and introducing or updating your current employee handbook to include new policy information pertaining to cannabis.


* Testing procedures vary by state, including some cities, and random drug testing is permitted on limited circumstances dependent on industry, public or private organizations, and position. Consult your local and state legislation and regulation concerning these procedures.



National Conference of State Legislatures: State Medical Marijuana Laws


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