Article “Marijuana in the Workplace”

Grass, reefer, bud, or pot. Whatever your generation calls it (and the list of nicknames is long and oftentimes amusing), marijuana legalization is a hot topic across the country and in the workplace.

Although the list is ever changing, and may soon change in California, as of the date of this article, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington State, and Washington, D.C., have all legalized recreational and medical marijuana.  Twenty other states, including California, have legalized medical marijuana.  Additionally, this year several more states—Arkansas, Florida, and Missouri—will vote on the legalization of medical marijuana while Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote on the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Since it went into effect in 1996, California’s Compassionate Use Act has permitted the use of medical marijuana for medical purposes. Recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in California. However, Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, will be on the November 8, 2016 General Election ballot and California voters can decide whether adults may use, possess, purchase, and grow marijuana for recreational purposes. Nonetheless, the changes in state law in California and other states have not affected the legal status of marijuana on the federal level. Using marijuana, medicinally or recreationally, continues to be a criminal offense under federal law.

Notwithstanding federal law, a recent Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans now believe that marijuana use should be legalized for all purposes. Further, a 2015 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that nearly 9.5% of the U.S. adult population used marijuana within the past year. Clearly, the stigma associated with marijuana seems to be fading.

Should California employers respond to the legal and cultural shift surrounding marijuana? And if yes, how?  Let’s explore the interplay between marijuana and the workplace … (Read the complete article)

Susan Arduengo is an attorney at Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. in Irvine, California. Susan represents employers in all aspects of employment law, including counseling, compliance, litigation prevention, single plaintiff litigation, and class actions. Contact her at sarduengo@fsglawyers.com or 949.265.1133.