New laws and regulations always spark conversation – and the 2018 legalization of medical marijuana in Oklahoma is certainly likely to be a leading topic of discussion, in workplaces and beyond. Oklahoma was the 30th U.S. state to make marijuana for medical use legal.
Both employers and employees need to understand how that affects companies. Employers need to convey certain essential information to employees and make sure company policies reflect this information.
1. Medical marijuana requires a license to be legal
Marijuana is now legal for individuals that have a valid medical marijuana license from the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. These licenses can only be obtained in requirements are met, including a doctor’s approval.
If an individual does not have a license for medical marijuana, using and possessing marijuana is still illegal. In other words, medical marijuana legalization does not mean that all pot is legal.
2. Marijuana in the workplace is prohibited
People licensed to use or possess medical marijuana are expected to use it in off-hours only. The use or possession of medical marijuana in workplaces is still prohibited.
It’s prudent to make clear to employees that use or possession during work hours can still be subject to disciplinary action. This has not changed under the law. If an employee is impaired by being under the influence of medical marijuana, they can be subject to disciplinary action for failing to perform duties effectively, as well.
3. Employers have the right to designate some positions safety-sensitive
Under the Unity Bill, employers will be empowered to terminate an employee who tests positive for cannabis even if they hold a valid medical marijuana license from the state if the employee holds certain “safety-sensitive” positions. These are a wide variety of jobs in which the safety and health of the public and the user could be affected by marijuana use. “Safety sensitive” jobs range from childcare to hazardous materials transport.
Employers can also legally refuse to hire a job applicant who tests positive for safety-sensitive jobs even if they do hold a valid medical marijuana license from the state of Oklahoma.
4. Review your testing policies
In the past, many companies have periodically tested employees for alcohol and drug use. It’s wise to review your policies concerning drug testing considering the new law legalizing medical marijuana. Lawful medical use may leave residue in an employee’s system.
5. Marijuana is illegal at the Federal level
Marijuana remains illegal according to Federal law. Because some employees may believe that the legalization of medical marijuana means the lessening or relaxation of all laws concerning marijuana, it can be helpful to make sure that your policies and statements reflect this fact.
Barracuda Consulting Can Help in a Changing Time
The legalization of medical marijuana is in some ways a major change in employee/employer law and a continuation of laws concerning performance. Barracuda Consulting is here to let you know what you need to know about the new medical marijuana laws. Call us to help in revising your policies and standards in light of the new law.