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  • Writer's pictureJennie Tannenbaum

Employee Cannabis Lounge is Around the Corner

Updated: May 13, 2020

The design team at Martha’s Creatives Emporium was just coming out of a motivational staff meeting to encourage the achievement of performance goals. The usual topics circled the room along with the usual food and drink offerings that were chosen to set the mood for an effective session of give and take among the design team members.


There was genuine talk about relaxing the company’s zero tolerance drug policy in regards to recreational marijuana in the workplace. The current drug policy prohibited the use of marijuana in the workplace and imposed a strict disciplinary protocol against those who dared to violate it.


The director of the creative team, Rutherford, wanted to explore and ultimately implement an onsite employee cannabis lounge to foster the creative talents of his team. He was certain that if his team was permitted to smoke marijuana and ingest edibles infused with cannabis during work, the coveted annual Best of Design award could be within reach for the company. In the last few years their biggest competitor had won the award despite having less top name talents on their team. Rutherford planned to meet with the company’s business attorney to find a way to allow his plans for a cannabis lounge to move forward.


As of January 1, 2020 recreational marijuana is legal in eleven states to adults over the age of twenty-one. Under the federal law marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug that is unlawful to possess and to use. The states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana recognize this conflict between state and federal law. Employers must also recognize this conflict and understand the potential liabilities associated with employees using marijuana at work.


The use of marijuana by employees in safety sensitive positions must be prohibited because the use of the drug and its psychoactive ability to impair motor skills and decision making can cause potential risk of serious harm to themselves and others. A zero tolerance policy must be implemented for safety sensitive positions.


Employers with government contracts should also have a zero tolerance policy regarding marijuana to do so otherwise would jeopardize these contracts and be in violation of the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act.


Rutherford’s team consists of designers who are not in safety sensitive positions nor does the company contract with the government. Does that mean that the company can operate within the confines of the law if it establishes a cannabis lounge to enhance the creative abilities of the design staff? It would be wise for the company to continue with the zero tolerance policy while at work for the time being, since the federal law still classifies the possession and use of marijuana as illegal activity.


If you are unsure of whether your business is in compliance with the state and federal laws concerning recreational or medicinal marijuana, contact Simply Good Law to review your employee handbook regarding the company drug policy. 


This article is for information purposes only and is not meant to be construed as legal advice. For more information or discussion contact me at jennie@simplygoodlaw.com or at 978-681-0017.

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