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Weed and Work: What Businesses Need to Know About Employee Marijuana Use

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on August 09, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

As more and more states relax marijuana restrictions, more and more of your employees may be taking part. And while some small business owners might think of cannabis like a cocktail and not give a second thought to their staff sparking up after work or even during a business lunch, many more are worried about weed invading the workplace.

So where can employers draw the line between pot-friendly state laws and office policies? Here's a look at marijuana use and employment law, from our archives:

1. How Will New Marijuana Laws Impact Small Biz Employment Policies?

The first thing to know is that what's true today regarding state marijuana laws may not be true tomorrow. Even the states that aren't legalizing it for recreational use may be updating medical marijuana statutes. The one general constant, however? Employers in most states, even recreational ones, still retain the right to fire or refuse to hire someone who tests positive for pot (for now).

2. Should Small Businesses Tout Pot-Friendly Policies?

Even so, you might choose to go a more progressive route and show current and prospective employees how pot-friendly your small biz can be. Just be careful in crafting your office policy: keep non-toking employees in mind, and don't forget that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

3. Should You Let Your Employees Smoke Pot at Work?

Sounds pretty extreme, we know. But many companies are encouraging employees to be creative or allowing the medical use of cannabis. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so tread and toke carefully.

Let's say you want to make extra certain nobody's high on the company dime. How far can you go to maintain a drug-free workplace? While courts generally side with employers on this matter, there are legal limits to workplace surveillance.

It gets a little more tricky if you're trying to make sure employees aren't on drugs off the clock. As we mentioned above, employers can, in many states, still prohibit pot smoking, even away from work and even if it's in a recreational state or the employee has a prescription. But make sure you're familiar with state law on the issue before showing up at your employee's door with a cup in hand.

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