How Will New Obama Marijuana Policies Affect Employers?

Jason Morris

r3229654514In a monumental decision this weekend the Obama administration is changing the governments course on federal marijuana laws.  According to the Associated Press:

Federal drug agents won’t pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana, under new legal guidelines to be issued Monday by the Obama administration.

This puts many U.S. Employers and the U.S. Government as an employer in an ethical quandary.  Many employers use extensive background screening services such as EmployeeScreenIQ to screen potential candidates.  As part of this process substance abuse testing may be included.  Many employers use the Department of Transportation‘s (DOT) drug free workplace policies as a standard.  With fourteen states already allowing medical marijuana one can only wonder how these employers are supposed to react to these new policies.

This blog is not intended to start a “for or against” type of debate but more so to see how employers will react to the news.  In Ohio we don’t have medical marijuana but its gaining momentum.  Ohio is has great incentives for employers to create drug free workplaces.  Should it pass here it could create a tidal wave of questions from employers!

Feds to Issue New Medical Marijuana Policy

WASHINGTON – Federal drug agents won’t pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana, under new legal guidelines to be issued Monday by the Obama administration.

Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law.

The guidelines to be issued by the department do, however, make it clear that agents will go after people whose marijuana distribution goes beyond what is permitted under state law or use medical marijuana as a cover for other crimes, the officials said.

The new policy is a significant departure from the Bush administration, which insisted it would continue to enforce federal anti-pot laws regardless of state codes.

Fourteen states allow some use of marijuana for medical purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

California is unique among those for the widespread presence of dispensaries — businesses that sell marijuana and even advertise their services. Colorado also has several dispensaries, and Rhode Island and New Mexico are in the process of licensing providers, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a group that promotes the decriminalization of marijuana use.

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Jason Morris

President & Chief Operating Officer at EmployeeScreenIQ
A veteran screening and risk management professional, Jason Morris founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and acts as the company’s chief operating officer and president. Morris is a frequent speaker delivering captivating, interactive discussions on background checks, global screening, recruitment and staffing. He educates audiences in best practice initiatives as they relate to organizational employment screening programs. Morris has been quoted in numerous business and industry publications including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, USA Today, New York Times, among others. He is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
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