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Recreational or medical marijuana use can jeopardize your firm

If your firm is in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Washington, D.C., or any of the other jurisdictions where the recreational use of marijuana is no longer criminal, your firm might still be in jeopardy because of its use by employees.

Industries regulated by the federal government or that perform services on federal projects need to worry about national laws against marijuana use. If your firm is a federal contractor, you must be able to show through tests that your workers are not using marijuana. Failing to do so, or having workers whose tests indicate marijuana use, could result in projects being pulled and opportunities for future projects curtailed. And the same is true with medical marijuana use; employers are not required to tolerate employee use of medical marijuana on or off the job. There is no clear accommodation for medical use.

Some firms have created zero-tolerance policies for drug use that carry no leniency or compromise. So a failed test could mean the end of an employee’s tenure with the firm. Even if your firm has a policy that does not prohibit the recreational use of marijuana outside of the office—whether or not such use is lawful—you must be aware that the drug’s active ingredient remains in the body long after its use. You might have a fully functioning employee who still fails a drug test. In those states that only have medical marijuana laws, users often have to document their use for a good reason to be excused from laws prohibiting recreational use. Thus, they are forced to admit to violating federal law.

So be aware—and make all employees aware—that the use of marijuana could have unexpected negative effects on your firm and their careers.

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