How Does Legalized Marijuana Effect Drug Screening in Illinois

“Can I still smoke weed and go to work?”

As you know many states have now legalized medical marijuana use.  Illinois became the twentieth state to do so.  A pilot program is still underway in that state. Four other states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.  Illinois and a handful of other states are considering decriminalizing the drug by the end of 2016.  Because this is unchartered territory, there are many questions that arise for employers and employees when it comes to the legality of using marijuana in the workplace.

Employers in Illinois are not required by law to allow employees to use medical marijuana in the workplace.  A company can also enforce a zero-tolerance policy for employees in safety-sensitive positions.  A zero-tolerance policy means that even if an employee smokes weed during the weekend and tests positive on Monday at work, he or she can be terminated from employment.

Drug testing for all substances, including marijuana, can be ordered by an employer in the state of Illinois.  This includes current employees and job candidates.  It is at the discretion of the employer to hire or retain someone who tests positive.  To remain compliant however, the employer must be consistent with its stance on the matter.

In places where recreational use of marijuana is legal, an employee can still be drug tested as well.  It’s important these tests be up-to-date with current laws in your area.  It’s a good idea to have corporate counsel review the company policy on drug testing.

Be sure to keep the lines of communication open as well.  Train employees on policy and keep them up to speed with your organizations  expectations and policies in relation to marijuana use.  You can avoid problems early on by having a policy in place.  Make sure management and the human resources department are on the same page and know the rules and requirements that have been established.  This will cut down on any confusion when it comes to enforcement.

Consider the actions of an employee when they use marijuana “off-the-clock” and what their rights are in your particular state.  Then implement a policy to address marijuana use away from the workplace.  Again, the help of a legal expert would be best used in this situation as well.

If the employer is federally funded or has federal contracts, it must still follow the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.  You can read specifics about it here.

Brian Chapman, CEO A veteran employment screening and risk management professional,  Brian D. Chapman is the CEO at MBI Worldwide, a global employment screening company.  Chapman received a degree in Criminal Justice from John. A. Logan College and has been appointed into the CEO Council of Tampa Bay as well as a member of the NAPBS National Board of Credentialing.  He is an author and expert witness in the employment background check circuit.  Chapman is a frequent keynote speaker on issues of EEOC compliance, adverse action and employment screening best practices.