The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hosted a virtual discussion on September 16 for workplaces facing “increasing questions” about cannabis as a result of changing state laws.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Center for Motor Vehicle Safety, within the CDC, encouraged those in the health and safety industries to tune in to learn about the knowns and unknowns about cannabis-impaired driving, the legal and testing considerations for employers of safety-sensitive employees who must drive as part of their job, and to give suggestions for how employers “can manage workplace driving risks associated with marijuana use.”
Speakers included John Howard, the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and Natalie Hartenbaum, president and chief medical officer of OccuMedix, an occupational medicine consulting firm.
“It is a difficult period of time for employers to be looking at this issue,” Howard said, highlighting that Americans live in a “dual sovereignty republic.” With regulations coming from both the federal government, which has maintained cannabis prohibition, and state governments, more than half of which have legalized cannabis for medical and/or adult use, he continued, “employers often can run into or run afoul of legal issues.”
Howard posed the question: do employers have a duty to accommodate an employee’s use of cannabis?
“No state requires an employer to accommodate cannabis consumption in the workplace,” Howard said, adding that 12 states and Washington, D.C. have adopted specific provisions that block an employer from “taking action against an employee in hiring and termination,” as well as other provisions that protect medical cannabis patients. Nevada became the first state to prohibit, with some exceptions, an employer from refusing to hire a potential employee specifically because of a THC positive drug test. New York City also has a similar law.