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West Virginia is the 29th state to legalize marijuana recreationally or medically, with more likely to follow. Vermont, a state that has allowed marijuana for medical use for more than 10 years, will allow it for recreational use beginning July 2018. It is the 9th state to pass this level of legalization.

64 percent of the population now supports legalization. The sharp increase in acceptance in recent years may be most notable in the 55-and over age range. While many may associate the use of marijuana with younger generations, recent studies looking at Medicare enrollee data were surprised to find that, when applicable, enrollees were making use of medical marijuana.

Managing employees who are under the influence isn’t anything new, but the ever-changing laws do make it more complicated. The primary concern for employers is the safety of their employees and companies. With this in mind, employers should focus on employee performance indicators as well as their training and hiring processes.


What actions should employers take?


  1. Employers should review job descriptions and ask questions. Would the off-duty use of marijuana affect an employee’s ability to perform the job duties? If the off-duty use affected the employee’s abilities, could a marijuana user be accommodated in this position safely?
  2. Managers should receive training on how to recognize impairment. In addition, managers will need to know the correct procedure and processes for how to document their observations.Studies have shown that impairment will be recognizable to trained observers.
  3. Determine if drug testing is the right fit for your company and, if so, in what capacity. Employers must decide if drug testing is the best method to determine when an employee is impaired or intoxicated. For-cause drug testing should be considered separately from preemployment drug testing when creating a drug policy.
  4. Employers should consider alternatives to drug testing. One alternative is psychomotor testing, which measures the employee’s current state. These tests measure reaction time and coordination, which will provide the employer immediate and accurate results directly related to the employee’s job performance.

    Learn more about marijuana and the workplace here.