Honestly, thinking about Washington State de-criminalizing the use of marijuana, makes me feel a bit more liberal towards the drug. My mind drifts to those “good old days” when we “experimented” with pot and I am thinking now how nice it would be to unwind with a doobie. After all, there is nothing my employer can do about it now, right? Wrong!

Pot still messes you up. In fact, the quality of the drug and the level of THC is 10x -20x more potent than 25 years ago. Marijuana impairment can cause massive lapses in judgment, visual acuity, balance, and energy levels. Getting “stoned” becomes literal with the quality of the stuff available today.

And therein lies the problem. On the job impairment is still unsafe and can cause all sorts of job performance issues. Yet, thanks to the passing of I-502, many employees are of the belief that they cannot be disciplined or fired for testing positive for the drug. But they are stoned and confused. Many employers seem to be confused too.

The passing of I-502 has many employers questioning their current workplace drug and alcohol policy and the use of pre/post-employment drug testing.

This new law legalizing the purchase, possession and use of marijuana in the State of Washington will not affect drug and alcohol testing programs. There have been many challenges to the use of medical marijuana in the workplace and in a recent Washington State Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Teletech, clearly stated that Washington State employers did not have to accommodate workers with a doctor’s authorization.

In speaking with a local attorney who specializes in employment law, Deidra Nguyen at Littler regarding I-502 and the impact it will have on workplace drug & alcohol policies, she said “Drug-free workplace policies remain alive and well in Washington, but employers should review their policies for ambiguity. A policy that simply bans illegal drugs likely won’t cut it.”

It is recommended that employers be proactive and notify all employees (in writing) that this does not affect your drug testing program rather than having to explain it after a positive drug test result.

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