Legal Weed: Cannabis in the Workplace

With Prop 71 going from pot legalization movement to D.C. law, legal Cannabis could soon be coming to a DC office near you. On November 4, voters turned out and overwhelmingly supported the initiative (68% approved) to legalize it.  Residents and non-residents will now be able to possess up to two ounces of marijuana. They will be able to grow up to 3 THC-producing Cannabis Sativa plants in their house at any given time.

But what does this mean for the workforce and businesses that hire D.C. residents?  Unlike other states where Cannabis consumption is legal (Washington State and Colorado), Washington D.C. is situated in a major metropolitan area next to two states that definitely still consider Marijuana illegal. But not so fast, says Congress. They may end up being the ones to “pass” after others have “puff, puffed”. Additionally, there is no corresponding legislation and ordinances on how marijuana will be taxed and sold. So there’s still a huge grey area in terms of legal weed in DC.

But there are some valid concerns from a business and employer perspective. What happens to an employee who talks about growing Cannabis at their DC home while they’re at their Maryland office? What about individuals who live in DC, and legally consume marijuana? Is it fair if they are given a surprise drug test by their Virginia-based employer?  Or what if you’re a Virginia or Maryland employer who has an event or happy hour in DC, only to see pictures of your employees smoking joints or holding (up to two ounces of) marijuana. Also, do the drug policies in your Employee Handbook now conflict with DC law? These are issues that HR departments, legal departments, and risk management departments will have the benefit of unpacking in the very near future.

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