Earlier this month, Gov. Tim Walz signed House File 100 into law legalizing the possession and use of marijuana for adults in Minnesota. Those 21 and older in the state are allowed to process, use, transport, and home grow cannabis for personal use, according to the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management.
What does this mean for employers and job seekers?
While the new law does allow for some personal freedom, it is not without limitations. Business owners need to respect employee rights while ensuring a safe and compliant workplace. Employees need to abide by their employer’s drug policy or face serious consequences that affect their employment.
In summary, while marijuana use is no longer a criminal act in Minnesota, it can still have significant implications for employment. It’s crucial for both employers and job seekers to understand these nuances of employment law in this new era of legalized marijuana.
Here are 3 ways the law affects your workplace:
1. Adjustment to Drug Policies
This significant change in legislation calls for a corresponding update in workplace drug policies. Company leadership should review and revise their existing guidelines to reflect the new reality of legalized marijuana.
The revised policy should clearly define the parameters surrounding marijuana use in the workplace and establish a standard for appropriate employee behavior. Marijuana use is prohibited on the employer’s premises, during work hours, and while operating equipment and machinery, as mandated by the law. Additionally, businesses are not obligated to permit drug use by employees in the workplace. It is crucial that employees understand these limitations despite cannabis being legal at home. Having a written drug policy in place ensures that everyone is aware of the expectations. By implementing these measures employers can develop a comprehensive drug policy that prioritizes safety, productivity, and a thriving work environment.
2. Prohibits Pre-Screening
In compliance with the law, employers should be aware that screening or testing applicants prior to employment is now generally prohibited, with a few exceptions. Individuals in federal or safety-sensitive positions may still be subject to testing. Furthermore, it is crucial to note that certain cannabis products are now deemed “lawful consumable products”. So, employers are prohibited from making hiring decisions based on an individual’s use or possession of these products outside of work hours. This change aims to ensure that potential candidates are not unjustly discriminated against for engaging in legal activities on their own time.
3. Reasonable Suspicion Testing
While pre-employment screening for cannabis is not allowed according to the new legislation, employers are within their rights to conduct drug tests based on reasonable suspicion. Reasonable suspicion testing may come into play if there is evidence an employee has violated written drug policies provided by the employer. This could involve working under the influence, causing a personal injury, or instigating a workplace accident. Some signs that an individual is under the influence of marijuana are: impaired physical or mental function, altered appearance, unusual behavior, or even a noticeable odor.
It is important to emphasize that testing should not be done “on an arbitrary or capricious basis.” Instead, it should be carried out following a clearly defined policy that outlines the consequences for a positive result or refusal to undergo testing. Employers should consider implementing drug testing policies that guide supervisors on the appropriate circumstances and methods for conducting reasonable suspicion tests.
This balance between individual rights and workplace safety is key to navigating this new landscape of legalized marijuana within the context of employment law. As always, communication and education around these policies are crucial to maintaining a healthy, respectful workplace environment.
Need Help Navigating the New Landscape?
Understanding and implementing changes in legislation can be challenging, especially when it comes to employment law. Don’t navigate these uncharted waters alone. Our team of experts is here to assist you in revising your policies and practices to ensure they align with Minnesota’s new marijuana laws. We’ll help you create a safe, compliant, and inclusive workplace environment that respects individual rights while prioritizing productivity and safety. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your business adapt to this new landscape.