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Marijuana’s Cost to Employers

National Law Review (11/19/15)

With more state laws legalizing marijuana, employers may start facing challenges when trying to protect their employees from injury and to comply with federal requirements to maintain a drug-free workplace. Employers also face potentially costly litigation as case law surrounding legal marijuana develops, according to a paper by Quest Diagnostics. Quest reports that medical marijuana legalization brought forth a new phenomenon: the production of marijuana-infused foods and gadgets, which could present a special problem for employers. These modes of consumption could make it extremely difficult for employers to determine when employees are using marijuana on the job.

As marijuana use increases, workplace injuries, accidents, mistakes, and employee illnesses also could increase, which could affect the costs of companies’ liability, workers’ compensation, and health insurance. While there are various questions companies should begin asking to safeguard themselves, steps they can take to protect themselves include staying current with the changing legal landscape and adjusting workplace policies accordingly, remembering that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and educating the workforce about the effects of marijuana, among other things.