On January 1, 2020, recreational marijuana became legal in Illinois. Specifically, adults over the age of 21 are allowed to purchase, possess and consume up to 30 grams of cannabis or related products (Illinois residents) or 15 grams (non-residents) from licensed dispensaries. There are still quite a few restrictions on its use, including a prohibition against using marijuana in public places, in motor vehicles, on school grounds or buses, and in knowing proximity to someone under age 21.
Yet many employers worry about how the new law will affect their businesses. Here’s what you need to know.
The law expressly gives employers the right to maintain drug free workplaces. You do not have to allow any employee to possess or consume cannabis products at work. You also have the right to discipline employees who are impaired or under the influence of marijuana while at work, on call, or performing work-related duties offsite.
In addition, state law does not trump federal law. If you are a federal contractor or part of the DOT (Department of Transportation), you must continue to abide by federal regulations concerning employee drug testing. Marijuana use remains illegal federally.
Drug Testing Considerations
The biggest challenge is likely to be for non-DOT, non-federal contractor employers whose policies include random drug testing. The Cannabis Act also amends the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to include recreational marijuana use. Employers are not permitted to restrict employee use of lawful products outside of work. The problem is that cannabis products tend to show up on drug tests for several days after use. Therefore, a random drug test on Tuesday could reflect recreational marijuana use on Saturday night.
If you take disciplinary action against an employee solely based on the results of a drug test, that employee may have a legal cause of action against you. Instead, you need to be able to document that the employee showed signs of impairment while at work. This can be tricky, so some employers are choosing to stop random drug testing and test only when there is definable cause.
The Illinois recreational marijuana law is quite new, and it’s possible that things could change, or court cases could set precedent. For now, stay informed and speak with your attorney for specific advice that applies to your workplace.
If you’d like to discuss your workplace policy or need to meet regarding your 2020 staffing initiatives, contact Alternative Staffing to schedule a meeting. We look forward to working with you!
Corporate Office: 708.652.3636 | Email: AlternativeStaffing@altstaff.com | Corporate Office: 5620 W. Cermak Road, Cicero IL 60804