The legalization of industrial hemp via the 2018 Farm Bill as well as the Congressional green lighting for production and development of cannabis have led to dramatic increase in the personal use of CBD in a wide range of consumer products. However, the legalization and related regulations have raised many questions regarding the use of CBD edibles in the workplace. This is because it is not clear how employers should tackle the use of cannabis in the workplace. And since the popularity of CBD is increasing, more and more questions are being raised.
Cannabis Legalization and Workplace Drug Policies
Before the Farm Bill, it wasn’t very difficult for employers to determine what to do with regards to the CBD usage in the workplace as they could simply terminate employees for positive drug screens. However, the rapid changes due to the Farm Bill and cannabis legalization have left many employers in an unwarranted position. A lot of employers maintain strict, no-tolerance policies when it comes to drug use in the workplace mainly because they don’t want their workforce arriving to work intoxicated.
The cannabis legalization is not the problem here because drinking in a workplace is grounds for termination regardless of the legal status of alcohol. However, it is a bit more difficult to determine whether the employees are consuming CBD edibles on the job or on their own time. When it comes to this, the state regulations make workplace drug policy a little more complicated.
How Employers Are Responding
There is no single answer. While some employers are implementing zero-tolerance policies and tight restrictions, there are others that have relaxed their policies and they are only taking action on failed drug tests. Some employers have even allowed their employees to consume CBD edibles on the clock without any restrictions.
Do Employers Have Certain Obligations?
How employers should approach cannabis use in the workplace is totally up to the laws in their state as well as their company’s own policies. Some states have added strict regulations around the use of all kinds of cannabis. In other states that have legalized cannabis, the situation is completely different for employers because some of the updated regulations offer protection for users. As an employer, you should check all state laws before you take action on a drug test result, particularly if the use of CBD is claimed by the donor. It is also recommended that you consult with an employment attorney for guidance.
Some Recommendations for Employers As an employer, it is recommended that you review and update your drug-testing policies to make sure that you:
• Set clear expectations for your employees.
• Provide justifications for the need for drug-testing.
• Explicitly allow for adverse action (including refusal to hire or termination) as a consequence of a positive drug test.
• Address how to respond to claims of false positive tests due to cannabis use.
You should hire the help of an employment attorney to make the process easier. It is also recommended that you have a medication policy in place that addresses the use of CBD in the workplace.