Legal weed coming — What does it mean for your job?
As it's written now, New Jersey's proposed law for adult cannabis use does not block workers in certain professions from smoking or ingesting marijuana on their own time.
And unless they have a good reason to do so, employers will have no right to fire or penalize you for your use of cannabis off property.
"Employers may treat this very similarly to how they treat alcohol use," said Alyssa Musmanno, an associate with employment law firm Fisher Phillips in Murray Hill. "People can drink recreationally if they want to outside of work. However, during work, they can't be impaired."
According to Musmanno, A21/S21 leaves more questions than answers for employers. Because current testing can't prove whether someone smoked or ingested marijuana this morning or 10 days ago, employers will have to figure out a way to teach their managers and supervisors how to spot the articulable symptoms and signs of marijuana use, she said.
The measure that cleared committees in the Assembly and Senate on Monday declares that "no employer shall refuse to hire or employ any person or shall discharge from employment or take any adverse action against any employee" for marijuana use, "unless the employer has a rational basis for doing so which is reasonably related to the employment, including the responsibilities of the employee or prospective employee."
The measure also specifically notes that the new law would not force employers to change their policies for a drug and alcohol-free workplace.
The bill does not mention whether workers in certain jobs would be prohibited from recreational use altogether — a point made during a legislative hearing by state Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen.
Certain workers, such as law enforcement and employees of regulated utilities, he said, are subject to random drug tests. When marijuana becomes legal in New Jersey, that may continue, leaving the door open for consequences against workers or legal problems for companies.
"I am concerned that some employees are going to lose their job," Sarlo said.
In response, the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, said he'd work to come up with more specific language in the bill.
"We will empower the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, per amendment, to come up with a more specified listing of job titles," Scutari said.
The proposed law is expected to be voted on by the full Senate and Assembly on Monday.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.