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Legalization of Recreational and Medical Marijuana Use Continue to Create Chaos in the Workplace


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CriminalBackgroundRecords.com States: Legalization of Recreational and Medical Marijuana Use Continue to Create Chaos in the Workplace

With an increasing number of states allowing the "medical" use of marijuana and a few allowing recreational use, specifically Colorado and Washington, the effect on employer's hiring policies has been highlighted as a critical issue. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of CriminalBackgroundRecords.com states: "How medical marijuana is handled as part of the hiring process is not clearly defined and it is vital that employer's utilize a third-party background screening company to ensure the legal and lawful use of public records as they may relate to marijuana related criminal records."

California led the nation in 1996 when the State Legislature passed the "Compassionate Use Act." But with the advent of medical marijuana use legalized under state law, the use of marijuana, in any form, remains illegal under federal law. Subsequently, a tremendous amount of confusion exists in regards to employing individuals with medical marijuana cards and use marijuana. Further, the legalization for recreational use in Washington and Colorado has further confused the issue.

A recent article posted to JDSupra.com highlights this challenge.

From JDSupra.com (Jul. 02, 15):

The increasing accessibility of marijuana over the years, as well as its acceptance into mainstream culture, have led to serious misconceptions regarding its permissibility in the workplace. (1)

In many states the use of criminal records is restricted. As the so-called "Ban-the-box" continues to gather acceptance the use of criminal history records as expressed controlled as to exactly when and how they can be considered.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of CriminalBackgroundRecords.com states: "Not only should an employer be mindful of the use of criminal records as well as conviction history, the issue of disparate impact comes into play as well. One must remain mindful of potential discrimination issues."

Once hired employee's that utilize marijuana either in a recreational or medical form must understand an employer's policy on drug testing.

Recently a Colorado man lost his court case of an alleged unlawful dismissal due to marijuana use during non-work hours. A random drug test led to his forfeiture of employment.

From the NY Times (NYTimes.com, Jun. 16, 15):

Even in one of the countryís most marijuana-friendly states, smoking pot off the job and away from work can still get an employee fired. (2)

The argument for acceptance of marijuana as a widely acknowledged medicinal property will continue, but, for now, this battle appears to be an up-hill battle.

From the Seattle Times (SeattleTimes.com, Jun. 24, 15):

The antiquated federal Controlled Substances Actís bans on marijuana use pre-empts state laws. To accommodate legitimate medical-marijuana use for workers, federal law must change. (3)

Until there is a federal law legalizing the use of marijuana either for recreational use or medicinal use confusion will remain for employers. Further, the controlled use over past convictions and criminal history reports further muddies the picture.

Almeida adds: "This is a challenging issue certainly but one that can be overcome if an employer has a solid employment screening policy with specific information regarding past and current marijuana usage as it relates to a position. It is critical that an employer work with a third-party background screening company in order to remain fully compliant with both state and federal law."

CriminalBackgroundRecords.com is a third-party background screening company that can provide a low-cost solution to all screening requirements. From pre-employment to post-hire screening, as well as volunteer, caregiver and nanny checks, CriminalBackgroundRecords.com provides background screening services across a broad array of industries. From the smallest organization to the largest corporation, CriminalBackgroundRecords.com can fulfill every background screening requirement.

Notes:

(1) jdsupra.com/legalnews/a-hotbox-of-legal-issues-california-s-28909/

(2) nytimes.com/2015/06/16/us/companies-can-fire-workers-for-marijuana-use-colorado-court-rules.html?_r=0

(3) seattletimes.com/opinion/editorials/legitimate-medical-marijuana-use-should-not-get-you-fired/

 

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