Despite the fact that marijuana continues to be a prohibited substance under federal law, there are now 33 states and the District of Columbia that have enacted so-called compassionate use laws that legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes, up from just 16 states a decade ago. Moreover, half of these state laws provide for some form of employment discrimination protection for employees who qualify as medical marijuana card holders. In addition, there are now 11 states and the District of Columbia that have laws legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes.

Not surprisingly, the legal landscape regarding how employers are able to enforce drugfree workplace policies – including zero tolerance for individuals who use marijuana – has been changing rapidly over the last few years. Until fairly recently, the courts generally upheld employers’ drug-free workplace policies against challenges brought by individuals permitted to use marijuana under state law. More recently, however, some courts have sided with individuals who have suffered an adverse employment action because of their use of medical marijuana, creating compliance challenges for their employers.

Over the last few years, NT Lakis has covered this proliferation of state marijuana developments on a regular basis by way of memoranda, enhancement of our online State Standards resource, and presenting on the topic at conferences. We now thought it would be helpful to gather and distill this information into a NT Lakis resource guide with tips on how to develop a compliant workplace policy related to marijuana use. Please note that the following guide is designed to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.