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Impact of Recreational Cannabis Law on Employers
Impact of Recreational Cannabis Law on Employers

Today, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an adult-use cannabis reform bill into law, legalizing and regulating cannabis use and possession for adults 21 years of age and older. While we are awaiting the official version of the law to be circulated, here are some important takeaways from the bill:

  • No employer may refuse to hire or employ any person, or discharge, or take adverse action against any employee with respect to “compensation, terms, conditions, or other privileges of employment because that person does or does not smoke, vape, aerosolize or otherwise use cannabis items;”
  • An employee shall not be subject to any adverse action by an employer solely due to the presence of cannabinoid metabolites in the employee’s bodily fluid from engaging in conduct permitted under this law;
  • An employer may require an employee to undergo a drug test upon reasonable suspicion of an employee’s usage of a cannabis item while engaged in the performance of the employee’s work responsibilities, or upon finding any observable signs of intoxication related to the usage of a cannabis item, or following a work-related accident subject to investigation by the employer;
  • A drug test may also be done randomly, as part of a pre-employment screening, or regular screening of current employees to determine use during an employee’s prescribed work hours; and
  • Nothing in this law requires an employer to restrict its right to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace or require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, being under the influence, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growth of cannabis or cannabis items in the workplace, or to affect the ability of employers to have policies prohibiting the use of cannabis items or intoxication by employees during work hours.

Many employers are concerned about the effect of this law on those employed in safety sensitive positions. We anticipate a set of standards will be released for a Workplace Impairment Recognition Expert certification to be issued to full or part-time employees, or others contracted to perform services based on education and training in detecting and identifying an employee’s usage of, or impairment from, a cannabis item or other intoxicating substance, and for assisting in the investigation of workplace accidents.

While we wait for the final law to be issued, we urge employers to reach out with questions on an effective drug and alcohol policy.

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