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Employers work to keep drug-free workplaces with legalized marijuana

Can employers keep a drug-free workplace with legalized marijuana? (WRSP)
Can employers keep a drug-free workplace with legalized marijuana? (WRSP)
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Keeping a drug-free workplace can be difficult, but is essential to maintain employee safety and quality work.

"Safety from not only the safety of their coworkers but also for clients and customers and making sure you're going to reduce your litigation,” said Jay Shattuck, director of the Employment Law Council for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. “Not only from a third-party litigation, but also from a worker's compensation standpoint."

Some industries that experts are most concerned about are construction, trucking and manufacturing.

"You cannot have impaired individuals on your shop floor or driving your trucks,” Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch said. "Even different office space industries are very concerned because there's a real question about how impactful it will be on productivity."

Experts said if you're an employer, you should make your drug policy now.

"We think that it is very important that alcohol not be in the workplace either, but cannabis has its own set of risks and we don't really know what they're going to be,” Maisch said.

Before drug testing an employee, make sure you have reason and document those reasons. This could be frequently calling in sick, a lack of motivation and drop in productivity.

You can test an employee's saliva, urine or blood. Saliva can usually detect same-day marijuana use.

"If you've just smoked marijuana one time in the last 30 days, you might not even test positive for it,” said Danielle Watts with Identi-Check Drug Testing. “Now, if you're doing it every day, multiple times a day, it is going to show up on the test."

Watts recommends using a drug test that looks at not only marijuana, but other common substances, like alcohol and opioids.

If an employee tests positive, know that you do have options.

"They can offer them help, they can offer them a chance to clean up on their own, or they can fire them because we are an at-will state,” Watts said.

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The Illinois Chamber of Commerce said a drug policy should also hold the executive and leaders of a company to the same standard.

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