Can employers test for marijuana use now that it’s legal in NJ? Attorneys, businesses weigh in
Recreational marijuana has been legal in New Jersey for just over a month. But because the new law is changing and evolving, the boundaries are still unclear.
Currently, employers are still permitted to have drug and alcohol-free workplaces. They are allowed to restrict employees who are under the influence of marijuana and can restrict marijuana use in the workplace. In some cases, employers can still require drug tests.
“The state is implementing rules and regulations and then, of course, those rules and regulations have to bear out…Employees will get fired or terminated or suspended or demoted for various marijuana infractions over the course of the next year or two. They will sue and courts will be asked to interpret whether what the employer did was legal or not and that will also change the nature of the law in the state,” says attorney Damien Weinstein, of Weinstein and Klein.
Hudson Etienne runs two tax firms – one in New York and one in Cranford. He says that drug testing is part of background checks for all new employees.
“Us being a tax firm, we want our clients to engage our employees where they’re not intoxicated, not impaired in any way,” he says.
But with the legalization of recreational marijuana, Etienne says that he will give it the same treatment as he would alcohol in the workplace.
“Not that it's legal, it’s a recreational drug just like alcohol is a legal recreational substance. You do what you want to do on your own time,” he says. “However, when you enter our doors, we don’t want you to be impaired in any way.”
There isn’t much guidance or examples for New Jersey to take from when it comes to marijuana use among employees. Employers will have to wait and see what the guidance from the state will be and then decide how best to implement rules.