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Marijuana may be legal, but it can still get you fired

Time:2016-11-20 17:02wine - Red wine life health Click:

LEGAL still marijuana fired

• Review your company’s policy regarding marijuana use.

• Remember that company policies trump your rights to personal use.

• If you’ve consumed marijuana and are facing a workplace test, consider paying out of pocket for a private test at a local lab first. ARCpoint Labs does personal tests for $20 to $40, with instant results.

• Read up on how marijuana works in the body, but remember there’s no fixed rule for how long it stays in your system.

• Don’t fall for online products that promise to help you pass drug tests; many don’t work and all are risky.

TIPS FOR EMPLOYERS

• Review your company’s policy regarding drug use and see if any changes are needed.

• Keep local and federal laws in mind, since those can impact how and when drug tests take place.

• Make workers aware of your policies, even if nothing has changed.

• Enforce policies consistently to avoid liability.

• Educate workers about how marijuana works in the body.

Sources: TriNet employee relations consultant Mike Simon and ARCpoint Labs owner Kelly Kirwan

Here’s a rule one Denver convenience store never expected to enforce: Microwaves cannot be used to heat pee.

The store is next to ARCpoint Labs of East Denver, which conducts drug testing for businesses who screen prospective workers before hiring them.

In Colorado, recreational marijuana has been legal since 2012, but it’s still forbidden by many employers.

That apparent conflict means lab owner Kelly Kirwan sees people regularly attempting to rig their drug tests. Some try to use someone else’s urine (requiring them to reheat the pee for authenticity; sparking the microwave rule at the nearby convenience store), while others try to mix in powders they buy via Internet in the hope of masking pot-positive results.

These schemes unfold because even though marijuana is legal for personal use, workers can still get fired — or not hired or sent to rehab — for having the drug in their system.

“A lot of employees got into trouble,” Kirwan said of the early days of Colorado’s law. “They thought, ‘It’s legal, let’s go smoke Saturday night!’ They didn’t understand that the employer policy still remains intact.”

The same is now true in California.

Voters approved Proposition 64 by a healthy margin on Nov. 8. That means Californians are free to consume cannabis on private property, carry up to an ounce and grow up to six plants at home.

But Prop. 64 also states that employers remain free to test workers for marijuana use before hiring them, or at any point during their careers. And if workers test positive, the law says companies can choose to let them go — even if there’s no indication they were actually high on the job.

Employers who uphold strict drug-free policies even as Prop. 64 is rolled out risk limiting their pool of potential workers. Other companies that relax their rules might face increased liability or reputations as being “stoner friendly.”

Meanwhile, many California workers are in limbo, with anyone who wants to take advantage of their new-found freedoms left to do so at the risk of their careers.

LAW ON EMPLOYERS’ SIDE

“How can you be fired for something that is now legal?”

That’s one of the most common questions Californians are posting to social media and asking over drinks (or cannabis consumption) in the days since Prop. 64 passed.

“People think that they have all of these job protections, but they really don’t,” said Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at UCLA.

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Bosses can refuse to hire workers who smoke cigarettes or are alcoholics, he said. Employers can force workers to turn over passwords to private social media accounts, or even let bosses come sleep in their homes every night. The worker’s remedy, Winkler said, is to walk away from the job.

“Employment in the United States is at will,” Winkler said. “That means employers can hire whoever they want, under any conditions they want, with a few exceptions.”

Federal law says companies can’t discriminate based on things like gender, race, age, religion or disabilities. Some states have tacked on additional protected classes of workers, with California adding that jobs can’t hire or fire people based on their sexual orientation, military status or health conditions.

Marijuana is not one of those protected classes,” Winkler said.

Employers’ freedom to screen workers for cannabis is specifically written into Prop. 64, and it might be a key reason it’s now state law.

The last time Californians voted on recreational marijuana legalization in 2010, authors of Proposition 19 added a clause prohibiting employers from disciplining workers for marijuana use unless their performance was impaired. Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, called that clause a “poison pill” that doomed Prop. 19 to failure.

Even people who are using marijuana on the recommendation of a doctor for legitimate medical conditions aren’t protected.

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