Pot, Guns & Work Don’t Mix

Managing in Maine just got a whole lot harder. Maine’s new medical marijuana law and concealed weapon law complicates running a business in a state trying to be business friendly.

 Under the new medical marijuana law, it is suddenly OK to smoke pot. With that change comes lots of questions from employers. What’s an employer supposed to do now if one of their workers comes to work stoned? And what if it’s a truck driver that falls under federal regulations? After all, marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

 The law has changed all the rules on drugs in the workplace. Procedures employers had in place for workers who come to work under the influence have just gone up in smoke. Under Maine’s medical marijuana law, an employee who is a “qualifying patient” and who has been issued a registry identification card is protected against discipline for use of medical marijuana. And recent changes to this law may have already eliminated the need for the registry card.

 While there is much we still don’t know about this law and how it will be enforced, here’s what we do know:

  1. Employers cannot refuse to hire and cannot penalize or fire someone just because they are a “qualifying patient.”
  2. Employees can’t smoke at work, work under the influence, and operate dangerous equipment or drive.
  3. Businesses that fall under federal guidelines must still follow those rules, including all drug testing requirements.

 Under Maine’s new concealed weapon law all employees with a valid concealed weapon permit are now allowed to keep a firearm in their locked vehicle while at work, as long the gun is not visible.  Business is not happy because they believe this law is an infringement of their property rights and a threat to their workers. No longer can a business prevent an individual from bringing a gun onto their property.

 While some see this law as a second amendment issue, others see this as a clear violation of their property rights. Now the rights of the gun owner trump the right of the property owner and that’s bad for business.

 Regardless of where you stand on these laws, employers must quickly come into compliance.  Here’s what should be done:

  1. Develop clear policies and procedures to address the laws.
  2. Train supervisors regarding compliance. Make sure they can answer employee questions.
  3. Communicate with your employees about changes in your policies. Be clear what is expected and what is not.
  4. Get professional guidance to address the likely employee issues.

 Drugs, guns and work were never meant to mix. Running a business is hard enough. The thought of having impaired workers or experiencing the nightmare scenario of an angry terminated employee coming back into your facility with a gun brings shivers to many employers. Yet, that’s what we got. It just got a lot more complicated.

 This article was originally published in the York County Coast Star.

 

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