What Does Marijuana Legalization Mean for Employers in Vermont?

What Does Marijuana Legalization Mean for Employers in Vermont?

Marijuana will soon become legal in the state of Vermont… Is your business or organization ready for the change? With roughly three months before marijuana legalization is official (July, 1 2018), now is the time for you to prepare. Unfortunately, the new law has already drawn serious concern from employers across the state especially from a workers compensation standpoint. It is our hope that this article will provide some deeper insight into several components that can better protect you as an employer.

The first thing we suggest, is reviewing and updating your current policies. Remember, your first area of protection is always going to be documentation. This type of document typically opens up with a policy statement describing the company’s viewpoint/stance on the subject. If you are going to drug test there must be a policy in place and employees must be given notice. It is also recommended that this policy have an acknowledgement area signed by the employee and kept in their personnel file.

Drug testing procedures can include:

Pre-employment testing – personnel applying for positions may be required to pass a chemical screen test as a condition of employment.

Reasonable suspicion – all staff members will be tested for drugs and/or alcohol when there is reasonable suspicion to believe that the staff member has violated the organization drug and alcohol policy. The organization, in such circumstances, may also require the employee to submit to appropriate tests for alcohol or prohibited drugs or substances in her/his system. Failure to promptly permit such searches and tests will be grounds for immediate discharge.

Among the situations where the organization may exercise its “reasonable cause” right to test and search include the following:

  1. An observable symptom of a staff member being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  2. On the job accidents involving medical treatment or property damage
  3. Unexplained significant changes in behavior (e.g., abusive behavior, repeated disregard of safety rules or procedures, insubordination, etc.)
  4. Failure to complete or comply with a treatment program already started
  5. Personnel admissions regarding drug or alcohol

Post-accident – ost-accident testing may be required when a staff member is involved in an accident, whether the staff member is responsible for the accident in whole or in part when another person is operating the equipment or motor vehicle. Post-accident testing may be required in the event of an injury requiring medical care, damage to property or in a near miss situation that could have resulted in injury or damage.

Random testing – currently you cannot randomly drug test employees in the state of Vermont. However, Federal law supersedes for all drivers who hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV). These drivers will be subject to alcohol and controlled substances testing pursuant to the United States Department of Transportation & Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.

Approved Workplace Drug Testing Labs

If your employee refuses to test or cooperate with the testing process in a manner which does not allow the test to be conducted; depending on your policy in place, this will typically result in termination of employment.

In general an Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) referral is typically a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee. Employers often provide information on EAP services to employees when there are performance issues or when the employee has disclosed to the employer that he or she is having difficulty dealing with personal issues.

If an employee tests positive, employers are required to provide information and an opportunity to attend EAP services. Employers cannot terminate the employee provided that the employee agrees to participate in and to successfully complete the rehab program. The employee may be suspended only for the time needed to complete such a program. If the employee has been brought back and fails a subsequent drug test after the original then they may be terminated.

It is also important to have supervisors who are trained on the subject, this way they can make it clear to employees that marijuana use on or off the job can have serious consequences. Currently, Reasonable Suspicion Training is only required by DOT. However, this type of training is becoming more prominent in other industries due to the legalization of marijuana. The purpose of this training is to teach supervisors to identify circumstances and indicators that generate reasonable suspicion that an employee is using or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, supporting referral of an employee for testing.

If you any questions feel free to contact our Risk Management Coordinator, Ryan Wilson at 802-295-3329 or rwilson@kinneypike.com

For more information check out these additional resources:

http://www.wcax.com/content/news/Marijuana-policy-changes-on-the-job-474943803.html

http://digital.vpr.net/post/employment-drug-testing-and-vermonts-pot-laws#stream/0

https://www.thecannabist.co/2016/12/01/marijuana-laws-for-employees/68546/

https://www.uvm.edu/consumer/businesses/drug-testing

https://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/section/21/005/00513

Article written by: Ryan Wilson

DISCLAIMER:

The information included in this publication and accompanying materials was obtained from sources believed to be reliable for informational purposes only. Northern Safety Solutions/Kinney Pike Insurance and its employees make no guarantee of results in connection with any training, materials, suggestions, or information provided. This information is only a tool to assist you in managing your responsibility to maintain safe premises, practices, operations, and equipment. All sample materials serve as a guideline, which you can use to create your own programs, policies, and procedures to reflect your own operations. Furthermore, it cannot be assumed that all possible hazardous conditions or unsafe acts that may exist are covered, every acceptable safety method is contained in this publication, or that specific circumstances may not require additional methods or alternative safety considerations. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state or federal regulations. Information obtained from or via Northern Safety Solutions/Kinney Pike Insurance should not be used as the basis for legal advice or other advice, and should be confirmed with alternative sources. Implementation of any practices suggested by this information is at your sole discretion; and Northern Safety Solutions / Kinney Pike Insurance or its affiliates shall not be liable to any party for any damages whatsoever arising out of, or in connection with, the information provided or its use.