How legal recreational pot impacts the workplace

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Recreational marijuana may be legal in Massachusetts, but the drug is still illegal under federal law. So, can Massachusetts employers legally demand drug tests?

Massachusetts adults over 21 have been able to legally possess and consume recreational marijuana since December 2016. However, if you test positive for the drug while at work, you could still be fired. 

“Employers are able not to hire somebody that tests positive on a marijuana test, even if they have a marijuana card that allows them to use it,” Northampton Attorney, James Winston said. “They can still not hire that person or fire that person.”

Recreational marijuana should be treated like recreational alcohol, but unlike alcohol, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. 

Although individual companies decide whether to drug test, employers don’t have to tolerate on-the-job intoxication, even if a worker is using marijuana for medical reasons.

Some say, however, employers shouldn’t drug test to begin with because recreationally, it’s legal.   

“If you’re going to work for a company, you need to come into work respectfully,” said Zachary Whitehead, of Agawam. “Don’t come into work smoking marijuana, don’t be smoking marijuana at work. When you go home, it’s a different story.”

The law strictly regulates use of the drug by banning its use in public, regulating where it can be purchased, and prohibits it in the workplace.

If you do have a medical marijuana card, reasonable accommodations can be made in some circumstances with your employer.

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