Although efforts to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Connecticut failed this past legislative session, legalization within the next few years appears inevitable.
But are employers prepared?
A recent nationwide poll of employers by Paychex shows that more than one-third (34%) are not equipped to handle medical marijuana use in the workplace, and that 38% are not ready for legal marijuana.
A total of 42% of the 500 employers surveyed said they felt "very prepared" to manage employee use of medical marijuana while 39% felt the samw about recreational marijuana use.
By industry, the highest level of readiness for medical use was professional services at 70%.
However, that sector is least the prepared for recreational use at only 58%.
Manufacturing and retail/wholesale were the most prepared for recreational use at 64% each.
While medical marijuana is legal in Connecticut, lawmakers over the past two legislative sessions have introduced bills to legalize the recreational sale and use of the drug.
In April, the legislature's Judiciary Committee in April approved a measure legalizing the retail sale and possession of cannabis.
The committee also approved SB 1089, which provides that employers are not required to make accommodations allowing employees to use or possess cannabis in the workplace or work while under the influence of the drug.
The state Senate did not act on SB 1089 as bills legalizing the recreational sale of marijuana failed to advance.
Marijuana legalization is a particular concern of Connecticut's defense manufacturers and supply chain companies, as U.S. law mandates that federal defense contractors maintain a drug-free workplace.
As many states consider new marijuana laws, businesses are scrambling to adopt policies that continue to protect workplace interests without infringing on employee rights.
Recent data shows that marijuana is one of the most common findings in pre-employment drug screenings.
Positive drug screening recently hit a 10-year high with marijuana use rising significantly in states where recreational use is legal.
Employers should pay attention to local legislation as it develops.
In a recent Arizona case, a court ruled that a Walmart employee fired after a positive drug test was discriminated against because the company failed to provide ample evidence the employee was impaired while working.