Marijuana Update: Pros and Cons of a Zero Tolerance Policy
By John Mavros Attorney at Law, Partner, Fisher & Phillips, LLP | January 26, 2020
This article was co-authored by Lauren Stockunas, Associate, Fisher Phillips LLP
It seems legalized marijuana is here to stay. A Gallup Poll recently revealed that as of October 22, 2018 two in three Americans support legalizing marijuana. Another survey by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, estimated that over 22.2 million people used marijuana in just the month prior to the survey. These surveys indicate that societal views on marijuana use have shifted and state laws legalizing marijuana have mirrored this shift.
Currently, 11 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 33 for medical use. Marijuana, however, remains illegal as a Schedule I drug under federal law. Back when marijuana was illegal under both federal and state law, alcohol and drug workplace policies were clearer. There was an emphasis on zero tolerance policies, and any positive alcohol or drug result was grounds for rejecting an applicant or firing an employee. It did not matter if someone was using drugs on or off the job.
Notably, employers are still allowed to require a drug-free work place and enforce a zero-tolerance drug policy. The landmark California court case of Ross v. RagingWire Telecommunications makes that clear. Further, recent California laws legalizing marijuana do not require employers to accommodate marijuana use – even for employees with a medical marijuana card.
Thus, employees can be disciplined for and even terminated for coming to work under the influence, possessing marijuana on company premises, or using marijuana while at work, even in states where marijuana is legal. Despite this, there are some pros and cons that hotel employers should be aware of when implementing a zero-tolerance marijuana workplace policy.
Pros of Zero Tolerance Policy for Marijuana