The prospect of marijuana legalization might inspire visions of weed-smoking breaks at work, or grabbing a joint with co-workers after a hectic day at the office.
But the reality of legalization in Illinois, if it happens at all, would likely be much hazier. Some employers might start turning a blind eye to employee use — as long as workers can still do their jobs — a trend that’s already happening in some other states where it’s legal. Other employers, however, might still ban its use, taking action against employees who test positive for pot, bolstered by federal law under which marijuana is still illegal, experts say.
What is clear is that employers will be faced with questions that, a generation ago, would have been unthinkable.
“Every employer is going to have to consider how they want to deal with this in their workplace,” said Bryna Dahlin, a Chicago cannabis attorney.
Consider Chicago-based Relativity, a legal technology company with more than 850 employees globally. It already forgoes drug testing for prospective employees and doesn’t see that changing if recreational marijuana is legalized, said Matt Garvey, Relativity’s director of talent acquisition, in a statement.
“We don’t do drug screenings for two main reasons,” he said. “First, the jobs within our organization do not require a pre-employment drug test and second we trust that our team members will make the appropriate decisions in order to be a productive member of our teams while adhering to local laws.”
Gov. JB Pritzker, has said he supports the legalization of marijuana, and lawmakers plan to consider legislation this year. If they succeed, Illinois would join 10 other states, and the District of Columbia, that have already legalized recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is already legal in Illinois.
If recreational marijuana is legalized, more people in Illinois will