When Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved recreational marijuana, they began what will be a long series of changes in the state. While governments will be the most publicly affected by these changes, businesses will have to adapt, too.
Along with government and law enforcement changes will come shifts in regulations that businesses will have to be mindful of. The new law means possible updates to employment policies surrounding marijuana, and a greater need for HR departments to fully explain their rules to employees. Employees will undoubtedly have questions regarding what legalization now means for them.
Some considerations HR departments should take into account for the sake of their employees and overall business operations include:
What is our policy regarding marijuana for employees following legalization?
This should be decided internally. However, AccessPoint’s recommendation would be to treat it the same way alcohol is treated by having a zero-tolerance policy. Keep it out of the workplace to avoid potential issues related to safety. Additionally, the option is still available to drug test employees prior to hiring, post-accident or for reasonable suspicion. Even though marijuana is legalized, employers can still choose not to hire someone who tests positive. Another consideration is whether your business is part of any government contracts. If so, zero-tolerance may be required. Take all of these factors into consideration before developing a final policy.
How do we articulate our policy regarding marijuana?
The employee handbook is a helpful way to ensure all employees have access to the policy as written. Once you’ve developed an updated policy, send a company-wide email asking employees to sign acknowledging they’ve received it. This isn’t a fool-proof method, however. Hosting a company-wide meeting and explaining the policy to everyone can help educate employees regarding any changes. A mandatory meeting also allows you to listen to their concerns and answer their questions surrounding the policy and its implementation. Clear and concise employee communication, with the opportunity to answer questions, will go a long way to keeping everyone on the same page and build trust with your employees.
Will our updated policy relate to medical marijuana?
Several states have laws protecting medical marijuana users from losing their jobs. Michigan is not one of those states, however. When determining your new policy, differentiating between medical and recreational users should be a factor. For medicinal consumers, developing a compassionate policy following any additional regulations is key. Again, any contracts with the federal government will have to be considered, but those using marijuana for medical purposes should have options. Creating separate and distinct policies can help those with medical cards keep their jobs while maintaining workplace safety.
Significant changes and uncertainties are coming to businesses and employees following the legalization of recreational marijuana. During this implementation period, it’s crucial for HR departments to be proactive and transparent about how these new government policies will affect their business operations and employee expectations. Developing the answers to these questions now will only help you be better prepared for the inevitable change to come.