13 January 2014

Employment issues loom over marijuana law changes

As US states start to allow marijuana to be taken for recreational use within the confines of the law, lawyers are asking how employers will handle the issue in practice.

By Neasa MacErlean

As US states start to allow marijuana to be taken for recreational use within the confines of the law, lawyers are starting to ask how employers will handle the issue in practice. PromesaArtStudio

Colorado has started the ball rolling by reforming the drug laws in this way. But there are fears in California, for instance, that such laws could backfire since many employers already screen staff for drug consumption and sack those with positive results. It is 'common' for a candidate to be denied a new post because of these tests, says The Press-Enterprise.

Risk

Joseph Ortiz, a partner in law firm Best Best & Krieger, says that the drugs tests rarely distinguish between whether the drugs were taken in the previous few hours or a couple of weeks beforehand. He says: 'In an abundance of caution, employers will say, ‘you have it in your system and you’re a risk.' And employers may not be impressed if an employee or candidate justifies their action by pointing to liberalised state laws. Mr Ortiz adds: 'They’ll also look at you as a person willing to violate at least federal law.' Source: The Press-Enterprise

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