What to know about recreational marijuana and the workplace

Marijuana

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Recreational marijuana will soon become legal. So how will that impact people’s jobs and what will be allowed? This bill is not stopping employers from having a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ on cannabis, which would allow employees to be disciplined or terminated if they test positive for any amount of THC product.

“If you’re employed by a zero-tolerance employer and you go to a party, if there’s any smoking of marijuana you need to leave immediately,” said Representative William ‘Bill’ Rehm (R- Albuquerque). Representative Rehm said many government jobs have a zero-tolerance policy. In the cannabis legislation, there’s nothing to restrict an employer to prohibit or fire an employee from using or possessing intoxicating substances at work or on the job.

Unlike alcohol, Rep. Rehm said there’s not a specific threshold for what’s considered impaired for cannabis consumption. He introduced a bill this past special session that would align with Oregon, Colorado, and Washington state’s threshold of impairment, but that proposal stalled.

Even out in public and not at work, law enforcement officers said it can be difficult to determine if a person is impaired by drugs. “It’s a fairly lengthy process so a typical evaluation can take anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour to complete to make that decision,” said Albuquerque Police Patrolman, Tim McCarson. “And it’s based on a lot of factors: their physical abilities, their mental abilities, and clinical signs; signs that their body can’t control.”

However, as far as the workplace goes, the City of Albuquerque said for their employees, it will never be acceptable to be impaired on the job but they’ll evaluate whether any changes are needed to their substance abuse policy. The governor’s office said it’s too early to know what policies will be in place for state employees. Right now, those with medical marijuana cards can have state jobs unless the position is safety-sensitive, like driving.

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