With pot legal, employers may rethink policies

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — What does legalized pot mean at work?

The short answer is that Michigan's new recreational marijuana law does not regulate the drug policies of employers. They can still prohibit possession or use of marijuana by employees and punish employees who test positive in drug tests.

But experts say employers are going to have to decide how to conduct themselves in an environment where pot is legal and labor is in short supply.

"It will absolutely force, I think, most employers to go back and look at their polices and at least decide what to do about it," said Luis Avila, labor and employment attorney partner at Varnum Law.

"Are those policies something you would never give up for anything or do you want to be a company that can attract any kind of talent regardless of what people do on the weekend?" Roberta King, co-owner of marijuana PR firm Canna Communication, said. "There have been a couple of businesses out there that have said, 'It just isn't worth it.'"

Some employers will have no choice but to maintain their policies because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. For example, truck drivers are subject to federal Department of Transportation rules, as are many companies that receive federal funding.

"Nonprofits, universities, the health systems here, banks, a lot of organizations that are not going to be able to change their policies because they are still subject to federal requirements," Avila said. "It will require some decision-making on the employer's part as to how to treat each employee."

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