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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Mary Jane Has Come Along Way Baby

By Tommy Eden

19 years after voters made California the first state in the nation to legalize the medical use of marijuana, Governor Jerry Brown on Friday October 9, 2015 signed a package of 3 bills to regulate the California medicinal-cannabis industry: Assembly Bill 266, Assembly Bill 243 and Senate Bill 643. In 1996 California voters approved Proposition 215, the law that made it legal for doctors to recommend pot to their patients.

The stated purpose of the legislation known as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act establishes the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation along with comprehensive regulations in California for licensing, taxation, quality control, shipping, product packaging and pesticide standards. The laws are scheduled to go into effect in 2018. It is highly anticipated that one or more measures to legalize the recreational use of marijuana will be on the 2016 California ballot.

Common Sense Counsel: So what should an employer who has employees assigned to work in a medical marijuana State like California do? Consider these 7 Steps an employer can take to successfully walk the workplace marijuana tightrope and keep your workplace from going up in smoke:

1. Understand the laws on Medical and Recreational Marijuana that are specific to states where employees report for duty;
2. Adopt a legally vetted pre-duty prescription medication and impairing effects substances safety policy;
3. Update employee job descriptions to cover critical safety sensitive issues;
4. Adopt a handbook policy on reasonable accommodations in those more difficult states and situations;
5. Let employees know your stance on Medical and Recreational Marijuana use;
6. Update your drug-free workplace policy and forms; and
7. Conduct Supervisor Reasonable Suspicion Drug and Alcohol Training and Employee Awareness sessions with a specific emphasis on the workplace dangers of Marijuana use and misuse.

Tommy Eden is a partner working out of the Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP offices in Opelika, AL and West Point, GA and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at or 334-246-2901. Blog at and follow on twitter @tommyeden3