HR Innovation

The Workplace Will Change in 2019. Here’s What Leaders Should Know.

Across the country, marijuana is steadily becoming more socially accepted. In a report published in late 2018, 62% of Americans support the legalization of cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes. Ten states currently have entirely legalized cannabis, while another 22 have made it legal to purchase medicinal marijuana. As a result of this trend toward the normalization of cannabis use, it’s imperative that business leaders are aware of the coming legislative changes to make effective plans for adaptation.

In this blog post, we highlight five key topics that every leader should address when it comes to cannabis legalization.

Drug-testing policies will need to change

Historically, random and scheduled drug tests were designed to screen for substances including cannabis. As marijuana inches toward legalization at the federal level, it’s important that companies consider changing their testing policies to exclude cannabis from its list of screened substances. While marijuana use might be reflected on a standard drug test, it doesn’t mean that the employee has actively come to work under the influence. With increased legalization comes increased use overall, so it’s important that employers begin using more appropriate screening practices.

Medical marijuana prescriptions may be protected by the ADA

While it isn’t explicitly stated yet, it’s important that businesses start to understand that workers who have a medical marijuana prescription will be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. More directly, if marijuana has been prescribed to an employee for a condition covered by the ADA, then employers are legally obligated to allow for its use under that protection. If you read our 5 Questions blog, you know that you can’t discriminate against individuals with disabilities.

Companies with cannabis-accepting policies will have a competitive edge

From a recruiting standpoint, companies are getting more savvy and creative in bringing in new employees. Though this tactic will largely depend on the company culture, businesses could develop a recruiting advantage through a more forward-thinking, open cannabis policy. Further, it’s been reported that 45% of employment seekers believed company culture to be their top priority. It’s vital then that businesses begin adapting to cultural and societal shifts for the sake of bringing in top talent.

Cannabis use will be treated differently from other substances like alcohol

While it might seem intuitive to conflate alcohol and marijuana company policies, the substances themselves are totally different and require different protocols. The human body metabolizes cannabis differently, which means testing for and detecting abuse may prove difficult. Excessive alcohol use may appear more immediately noticeable on a worker’s performance. Because cannabis abuse is harder to detect more immediately, it’s management’s responsibility to monitor and intervene on a case-by-case basis.

A dedicated HR team is necessary for a fluid transition

HR needs to mediate proactively when adopting a cannabis policy. There will understandably be several questions from employers and employees alike regarding the legislative and cultural shifts, and HR practitioners need to be ready to address all concerns. Finally, a proficient HR department will work diligently to develop a lawful policy to successfully map out the appropriate procedures when it comes to cannabis in the workplace.

Navigating and deciding on appropriate cannabis policy certainly poses unique challenges. Be sure to check out our full discussion on the effects of cannabis legalization in the workplace for a better idea of how your company can stay one step ahead.