The results are in from election night 2016 and the number of states permitting legal adult cannabis use doubled. Approximately 16% of the country plus the District of Columbia allow adult recreational use. The states that legalized adult use include California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine. With the number of industries located in, or with events in these states, it is likely your employees will travel for business to a state with legal cannabis. There is still uncertainty with what Donald Trump will do to address the growing legal cannabis industry, but cannabis is currently still a federally scheduled drug. No matter how you personally feel about the legalization of cannabis, you cannot ignore the legalization trend and the potential impact it has on your business. Here are three impacts of legal cannabis you should address before the new legislation goes into effect January 1st.
Depending on your line of business, it would not be uncommon to contract with the government to provide goods or services. If this is the case, you may be subject to certain terms regarding employee use of drugs, and maintaining a drug free workplace. Under these circumstances you should ensure that you are compliant with the term of your contract, rather than risk it and potentially lose your contract. To proactively ensure you are compliant, review your employee policies surrounding drug use and testing. You should update any policies that are not current and distribute them to your employees in such a manner as mandated by local law.
Even if you do not have any government contracts, but you want to ensure your liability is limited, it is worth examining the policies you currently have on the books. Regulations surrounding drug testing in particular will vary from state to state. It is important to ensure your companies policies comply with the regulations of the state in which you are operating. If you haven’t updated your employee policies recently it doesn’t hurt to revisit them and make any changes necessary to ensure compliance. After updating, chose the manner of distribution and notification of policy changes to employees wisely. Failure to provide proper notice of policy changes can render your rights as a business owner null.
The ultimate goal of updating your employee policies is to protect the business you have built. Another way to limit your liability for the actions of employees. Know what your policy covers, and what it excludes. Review the content of your insurance agreement, or hire someone to review and negotiate it for you. The last thing a small business owner wants is a surprise lawsuit or settlement not covered by insurance.
Regardless of how you feel about employee use of cannabis, the trend nationally is shifting toward legal adult use. Be proactive and update your employee policies and re-evaluate your liability insurance contract. Whether for or against, the best policy is one of transparency and predictability in your dealings with employees. For help evaluating and updating your employee policies, contact the attorneys at Loop Legal PLLC.