Recreational marijuana could impact private companies’ drug policies

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EDISON -

What would legal recreational marijuana use mean to companies that drug test their employees?

New Jersey lawmakers are still considering a plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the Garden State. But some businesses, like Edison Heating and Cooling, drug test their employees upon hiring.

Owner Michael Iarrapino says that his employees are tested when they are hired and if they get into an auto accident while on the job. He says that he worries how legal marijuana use would impact his business.

“Marijuana stays in your system for 30 days. So if, God forbid, one of our employees had recreational marijuana on the weekend and he gets in an accident in a company truck three or four days later, he's going to test positive,” Iarrapino says.

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Iarrapino says that he is also worried about company liability and higher insurance rates if more people use marijuana more often when it becomes legal.

“This business has more than 80 employees who drive company vehicles on service calls,” he says.

Employers in other states where marijuana is legal are grappling with the same issues. Some have opted out of drug tests for marijuana.

“On the other hand some employers have stayed with a zero tolerance policy because under federal law marijuana is still very much illegal,” says attorney and Rutgers University assistance professor James Cooney.

Cooney says that certain jobs, especially ones requiring employees to operate vehicles or equipment, may remain subject to testing.

Iarrapino says the he will seek legal advice when the time comes, but says that he wants to keep a zero tolerance policy.

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