Marijuana Laws Impacting Employers Spread Like A Weed In 2021: A Year In Review

Every year, companies discover themselves reviewing their cannabis and drug screening policies to represent freshly enacted laws at the state and regional level. Now is no various. Below are some highlights of what took place in 2021.


On June 22, 2021, Connecticut legislated leisure cannabis usage by grownups 21 years and older. Arrangements relating to ownership are reliable now, the employment-related arrangements are not reliable till July 1,2022 At that time, numerous companies will be forbidden from taking particular actions in the lack of clear policies dealing with cannabis usage or proof of disability. With a clear and certified policy, companies can, to name a few things, restrict staff members from being under the impact of, utilizing or having cannabis while they are working and while performing their task tasks or on business properties. If a company has in location or carries out a policy that restricts staff member usage or ownership of cannabis, and such policy is provided to workers beforehand, the company can do something about it versus a worker who utilizes leisure cannabis or tests favorable for it as part of affordable suspicion and random drug screening. When it comes to a task candidate, a company can rescind a task deal if a candidate tests favorable for leisure cannabis so long as the company makes the policy offered to the candidate at the time of deal.

There are many positions and markets exempt from the law. And naturally, companies still should bear in mind the state law defenses presently readily available to medical cannabis users.

New Mexico

On April 12, 2021, New Mexico saw the legalization of leisure cannabis. While the law does not offer work defenses to leisure users and, in reality, specifically pays for numerous securities to companies, medical cannabis users have specific defenses under existing state law.

New Jersey

The “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act,” which was signed on February 22, 2021, got a fair bit of attention from companies mainly since it probably restricts companies from turning down a task candidate who checks favorable for cannabis (unless a narrow exception exists, such as positions based on Part 40 DOT-mandated drug screening).

While the brand-new law, to name a few things, enables companies to check existing staff members for cannabis, the law restricts a company’s capability to count on a favorable cannabis test lead to making work choices. Particularly, based on extremely narrow exceptions, New Jersey companies might not decline to use or otherwise victimize a staff member who utilizes cannabis or based exclusively on a favorable test outcome for cannabis metabolites, which efficiently suggests that a company can act just if the staff member is hindered by cannabis at work. On this point, companies need to establish particular procedures prior to depending on an affordable suspicion drug test, consisting of performing physical assessments and designating a “Workplace Impairment Recognition Expert” (WIRE) who should be trained to spot and determine a worker’s usage or problems from drugs and to help in the examination of work environment mishaps. As we formerly composed, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission has actually not launched policies associating with the WIRE (however is anticipated to) and has actually suspended the requirement for the physical exam.

New York

New York’s leisure cannabis law, authorized on March 30, 2021, likewise got a great deal of attention since it restricts companies from taking any action versus somebody for utilizing leisure cannabis when not working and, hence, perhaps limits the capability of a company to think about a favorable pre-employment cannabis test outcome (missing an exception).

Employers can still preserve drug-free work environments, are not needed to accommodate the usage, belongings, sale, or transfer of cannabis in the office, and might restrict workers from being hindered throughout work hours. The law forbids companies from declining to work with, use, or license, or to release from work or otherwise discriminate versus a specific since of a person’s legal usage of consumable items or legal leisure activities, which now consists of cannabis in accordance with state law. The law modified New York Labor Law to restrict companies from releasing or victimizing a staff member for making use of cannabis beyond work.

Employers can just take work actions based upon contrary federal and state legal requirements (e.g., Part 40 DOT) and federal agreements. Companies likewise can end a worker based upon “particular articulable signs” of cannabis problems that “interfere( s) with a company’s commitment to supply a safe and healthy work environment, devoid of acknowledged risks.” The New York Department of Labor just recently advised companies in its “Frequently Asked Questions” that a favorable cannabis test does not show problems at work and, hence, worried the significance of defensible sensible suspicion screening policies and practices.


Most Philadelphia companies are now restricted from needing potential workers to go through screening for the existence of cannabis as a condition of work. Presently, just New York City and Nevada have comparable cannabis screening limitations.

Exceptions use to, to name a few, any position needing a business motorist’s license, positions needing the guidance or care of kids, medical clients, handicapped or other susceptible people, or security delicate positions, as figured out by the enforcement company and stated in policies pursuant to the regulation. It likewise does not use to: any federal or state statute, guideline, or order that needs drug screening of potential staff members for functions of security or security; any agreement in between the federal government and a company or any grant of monetary help from the federal government to a company that needs drug screening of potential workers as a condition of getting the agreement or grant; or any candidates whose potential company is a celebration to a legitimate cumulative bargaining arrangement that particularly attends to the pre-employment drug screening of such candidates.


Virginia resolved both leisure cannabis and marijuana oil. With regard to leisure cannabis, a brand-new law permits those 21 years of age or older to have or utilize recreationally. Retail sales will not start till January 1,2024 The law does not straight resolve drug-free work environments, though it acknowledges that cannabis triggers disability and forbids driving while under the impact of cannabis.

Virginia likewise modified the state’s medical cannabis law to restrict discrimination versus legal users of medical marijuana oil (as specified in the law). Companies might not release, discipline, or victimize a staff member for their legal usage of marijuana oil pursuant to a legitimate composed accreditation released by a specialist for the treatment or to remove the signs of the staff member’s detected condition or illness pursuant to the state’s marijuana oil law. There are a handful of narrow exceptions.

Takeaways for Employers

Many states are thinking about enacting brand-new or modifying existing laws to supply work defenses to cannabis users, which might lead to 2022 likewise being another hectic year in this location. With public and legal assistance for cannabis growing, companies with drug screening policies might choose to review their views about cannabis, specifically if they discover it tough to hire and work with skilled employees or they do not use safety-sensitive or other managed positions.

Regardless, all companies with alcohol and drug screening programs ought to think about a fresh evaluation of their policies to choose whether they will continue to evaluate for cannabis and, if so, the situations under which tests will take place and the effects for stopped working drug tests. Especially, some states, consisting of Connecticut, Maine, Iowa, and Minnesota (to name a few) have drug screening statutes with policy requirements. Companies likewise need to think about training their supervisors and managers to make and record affordable suspicion decisions so they can protect any actions taken based upon favorable cannabis tests.

Finally, depending on state impairment discrimination laws, medical cannabis users are submitting claims versus companies for failure to accommodate and impairment discrimination, which seem getting traction. Therefore, companies must think about having in location a clear policy and treatment for attending to lodging demands from candidates and staff members utilizing medicinally.

We will continue to keep track of brand-new advancements in this progressing location of law and blog site about them in The Blunt Truth.


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