Many times we get the question from employers asking what to do when medical marijuana is legal. What can employers learn from municipalities in the state of Oregon? Oregon is a state where marijuana is an acceptable medical treatment alternative.
We think it is perfectly legitimate to have the same attitude about marijuana as you do about alcohol. Hopefully, your firm just does not tolerate being under the influence of alcohol while at work. This is particularly important if the individual is in a safety-sensitive position, operates machinery, or drives a vehicle. Likewise it is appropriate to have the same attitude about marijuana, even if you are in a state with legalized marijuana laws.
Interestingly enough, there was an article in The Oregonia by Nuran Alteir listing some Oregon municipalities’ policies regarding this topic . And, as you know, Oregon has legalized marijuana.
Below is a summary of comments in the article. In summary, these municipalities say an individual can not be under the influence at work. For full text of the article click here
Also you will notice that certain state agencies comply with federal law regarding the substance of marijuana. Marijuana is still an illegal drug under federal guidelines. Also, note that some municipalities use random drug testing to enforce their policies. Random drug testing can be 50% more effective than pre-employment testing in uncovering people under the influence of drugs.
City of Tigard
“It’s legal, but…” As you already know, wrote Dana Bennett, human resources director with the city. “it is against policy to be at work under the influence of any controlled substance, whether alcohol, prescription medication or marijuana.” “It’s no different than coming to work intoxicated from alcohol,” said Cornelius City Manager Rob Drake. Employees who drive as part of their job or work in a safety-sensitive position are still prohibited from consuming or smoking marijuana at any time per federal law.
According to the city of Portland’s employee manual, the city views “illegal drug use and excessive use of legal drugs and alcohol as a threat to the public welfare and the health, safety and productivity of employees of the city.” Employees are prohibited from reporting to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and bringing such items to the workplace.
Portland Public Schools:
The school district has a zero tolerance policy in the workplace, school events, school-sponsored events and field trips. The policy does not apply to what district employees do on their personal time, said Christine Miles, PPS district spokeswoman.
At Oregon’s largest transit agency, “nothing changes,” said agency spokeswoman Mary Fetsch. Despite legalization, “our policy still prohibits the consumption of marijuana by any employee at any time for any purpose,” the TriMet memo stated. Among other things, the document notes that its position is in line with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s ban on marijuana use by transit workers, even in states that have legalized the drug.”The possession and sale of marijuana on TriMet property is also banned,” Fetsch said.
Washington County employees “are expected and required to report to work on time and in appropriate mental and physical condition for work,” according to a letter sent out this week. It added that violations of the county’s drug-free workplace policy “will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination, and may have legal consequences.”
All Multnomah County employees are prohibited from being under the influence of intoxicants, including marijuana, while on duty or on County property. They also may not be absent from work because of using such products or rendering themselves unfit to perform their duties because of use.
Employees in “safety sensitive” positions, such as drivers and bridge operators, are subject to random testing under the federal standard, and there is no plan to change what positions are subject to random testing, wrote Julie Sullivan-Springhetti, spokesperson for Multnomah County. Multnomah County law enforcement-related units operate under a Zero Use policy due to cannabis remaining illegal under federal law, and there is no plan to change that standard, she said.
Clackamas County employees were reminded that “all marijuana, including medical marijuana, remains illegal under federal law as a controlled substance,” according to a letter signed by county Administrator Don Krupp.
The city’s Drug and Alcohol-Free Workplace Policy states “employees are expected and required to report to work on time and in appropriate mental and physical condition for work.” “Specifically regarding marijuana, City of Hillsboro employees are not allowed to use marijuana while on duty, or be under the influence of marijuana while on duty,” the email stated.
The new law does not change Oregon employment law or the city of Beaverton’s employment policies. The city’s current the Drug Free Workplace/Substance Abuse policy states “no employee may use, possess, distribute, sell or be under the influence of, or impaired by, alcohol or illegal drugs while on city premises and while conducting business related activities during business hours off the city premises.”
The city’s human resources manager stated the legalization of recreational marijuana does not change the city’s employment policy. It would still be a violation for city employees to possess, use, sell or be under the influence of marijuana while on duty or engaged in conducting city business – regardless of whether it is during business hours or on city property. “Additionally, employees will still be subject to reasonable suspicion testing and random drug testing for those who have [a commercial drivers license],” wrote Brenda Camilli, Human Resources Manager for the city of Forest Grove.