Understanding the Impact of Cannabis Laws in Business

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (CRTA) into effect. On January 1st, 2020, recreational use and possession of marijuana for individuals 21 years of age or older will be legal. This new law has put many employers in Illinois in a difficult situation, especially those who have employees dependent on medical marijuana on their payroll.

However, businesses can maintain a zero-tolerance policy for marijuana in the workplace. This includes implementing policies that forbid employees to use, possess, or be impaired by the substance while they are on duty, on the property of the employer or client or if they are on call status. If caught, employers can take disciplinary action against them and even terminate their employment.

Of course, they have to be careful when enforcing these policies so they do not violate the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act (IRPWA). This law forbids employers from taking adverse action against employees based on their use of marijuana or other legal products. However, this will only come into play if workers are caught using those substances while off duty or during non-working hours.

As per CRTA’s influence on IRPWA, legal products include all items allowed under state law. Besides marijuana, this includes tobacco and alcohol.

What Can Employers Do?

While employers cannot stop employees from using marijuana in the workplace, they can educate them about its effect and how it can impair their work. This includes informing employees how long the substance can remain effective in the body, specific reactions and how it can impair their ability to drive or maintain client relations.

Employers who amended their existing drug testing policies in anticipation of the new law have been able to avoid potential lawsuits and ensure their employees can have gainful experiences at work.

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