Cannabis And Workplace Safety | KUNR

Cannabis And Workplace Safety

May 30, 2017

Photo from Counter Current News.

Medical and now recreational marijuana is legal in Nevada. Many businesses in the state are grappling with drafting drug policies to ensure workplace safety. Diana Albiniano is a Reno based human resources consultant with Solutions At Work. She helps employers customize policies that work for their type of industry and explains that workplace drug policies should address the specific needs of an industry.

“Do you have heavy equipment, do you have manufacturing, do you have a lot of safety concerns? So your policy is going to be a lot different than a policy for a company that just has workers in an office,” Albiniano says.

Albiniano says employers can address medical and recreational marijuana differently. With regards to recreational marijuana, businesses can have a zero tolerance policy as they would with alcohol use while on the job.

For employees with medical marijuana needs, Albiniano says that depending on the size of the company, there are federal laws that requires employers to accommodate an employee’s medical condition. “So if you are over 15, you have to comply with the ADA, the American Disabilities Act,” Albiniano says. “If you’re over 50 employees, you’d have to provide accommodation for a Family Medical Leave Act, maybe they have to take some time off, maybe they’re going through chemotherapy or something like that, and they need marijuana to help them with the nausea, so you would accommodate based on the medical condition.”

Attorney Anthony Hall with the law firm Holland & Hart says that some employers are hedging what the safety risks of an  employee's use of marijuana could pose to their workplace.

“A lot of employers that have safety sensitive positions, interactions with public, heavy equipment, security, all of those. Lots of them are basically saying, 'I’ll take my chances on an employment suit because I can’t accommodate this and run the risk to the public,'” Hall explains.

With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada, Albiniano recommends that all companies review and update their drug policies to ensure workplace safety.