Story From New Jersey Emphasizes Need to Know Workplace Marijuana Policy

With 18 states legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana and 39 states legalizing medical marijuana, many employees might feel it’s safe to use weed during their off hours or as a prescribed medication. But that’s not always the case.

Recent news from New Jersey illustrates the importance of knowing your workplace marijuana policy.

The state of New Jersey has legalized medical and adult-use marijuana. However, some employers may still check for marijuana use in random drug actions and take negative actions against employees.

It’s an issue that some government leaders have addressed in places across the country, including New York. The latest incident involving workplace marijuana policy came from the town of Woodland Park, New Jersey.

Mayor Says Cannabis-Using Employees Can Lose Job 

Woodland Park is a borough in Passaic County, New Jersey. Mayor Keith Kazmark recently informed the municipality’s 120 employees that using cannabis could lead to them losing their job.

His comments most likely would impact police department and public works employees who undergo random drug tests, according to northjersey.com.  “Our police officers are responsible for ensuring our public safety, enforcing laws and serving as our protectors,” the website quoted Kazmark saying. “Our DPW workers utilize heavy equipment and hold CDL licenses to carry out their duties in maintaining the infrastructure, keeping our town looking beautiful.”

Kazmark added that while cannabis is legal in the state, municipal workers “must provide services to our residents and customers with a clear mind and optimal efficiency.”

The Problem With Testing for Cannabis

The issue with Kazmark’s approach to workplace marijuana policy is that it infers a person with THC in their blood or urine is still feeling the effects of marijuana and not of “clear mind.” But studies have shown drug tests can detect THC as much as 27 days after it was used and long after the effects have worn off.

This is the reason some places have banned the use of drug tests for marijuana. Other cities and states have passed laws to prohibit firing an employee or not considering a job candidate because of a positive cannabis drug test.

In areas where cannabis is legal, employers who continue to test for marijuana potentially keep people from using medical marijuana obtained legally. It also prevents people from using legal adult-use cannabis on their own time, such as over the weekend, for fear of testing positive days or weeks later.

Other public officials in New Jersey are taking an approach to workplace marijuana policy that emphasizes personal responsibility. Passaic Mayor Hector Lora told northjersey.com:  “I am concerned with whether City Hall employees are working hard to keep our city safe and clean and treating people with courtesy, respect, and good customer service, and not how they responsibly choose to legally spend their time off the clock.”

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