In the summer of 2018, Oklahoma became the 30th state to pass a medical marijuana law and on March 12, 2019, Governor Kevin Stitt signed the “Unity Bill” which amends the state’s new medical marijuana law.
With the passing of the original Medical Marijuana Bill, voters legalized the use of marijuana and simultaneously created many potential issues for employers. The law, which is regarded as one of the most-employee friendly medical marijuana laws nationwide, gives broad discretion to physicians in prescribing medical marijuana and restricts employers from taking action against applicants or employees solely based on their status as a medical marijuana license holder or solely due to a positive drug test. The Oklahoma law which took effect on July 26, 2018, presents a lot of risk for employees. The national trend for the past two years has been that employees are being favored in court cases involving medical marijuana. Although there has not been a case involving marijuana and employment in Oklahoma yet, it will probably happen eventually. As an Oklahoma Business Owner, you need a plan now so that you are prepared to handle medical marijuana issues as they arise. As a Tulsa HR company, we are following this law and its implications closely.
The “Unity Bill”, which amended the first bill, was passed in order to create a system to regulate patients and businesses. The most important implication of this second bill for employers is the addition of explicit permissions to take medical marijuana use into consideration when the applicant or the employee is employed in a “safety-sensitive position”. In these cases, the employer can deny the applicant or take other action. The Unity Bill specifically defines duties that are associated with safety-sensitive positions. Some of these duties are handling, packaging, processing, storage, disposal or transport of hazardous materials, operating a motor vehicle, operating machinery or power tools, dispensing pharmaceuticals, carrying a firearm, direct patient care, direct child care, the operation, maintenance or oversight of critical services and infrastructure including electric, gas, water utilities, and power distribution, performing firefighter duties, and the extraction, compression, processing, manufacturing, handling or storage of potentially volatile, flammable, chemicals or highly regulated components.
So, what do these laws mean for you? How can you protect yourself as an Oklahoma business owner? Do not worry! CYB Human Resources has you covered!
The most important thing for employers to remember is even though marijuana use was legalized, it is still okay to prevent use in the workplace. Employers should have a clearly written policy in their employee handbook outlining that marijuana use is not allowed IN the workplace and that employees are not allowed to be under the influence while working. You should make sure your workforce knows that being impaired or under-the-influence while at work is strictly forbidden and may lead to disciplinary action or termination. You can also add a section to your handbook about marijuana use strictly for employees in “safety-sensitive” positions. Employees in these safety-sensitive jobs should report to their manager and/or Human Resources if they are taking any prescription drug (this includes marijuana) so that an interactive dialogue can follow to determine the next steps. In addition to having the policy, you should make sure you have signed a handbook acknowledgment form for each employee. CYB, the best Tulsa HR company, can help you with this process and make sure you have the correct documentation in place for each of your employees.
Now is also an excellent time to review all of your company’s job descriptions and their essential functions and create a database of “safety-sensitive” positions. This way, you will be prepared to consider medical marijuana use separately for these types of positions. CYB, the premier Tulsa HR company, can provide you with a comprehensive list of duties which the Unity Bill deems as “safety-sensitive” and help you evaluate your jobs on a case-by-case basis to determine if they would qualify as safety-sensitive positions.
Also, like many tricky HR issues, your managers are your first line of defense. As the best Tulsa HR company, we recommend conducting a supervisor training to make sure your management team understands the implications of the new law. Your employees are probably going to be asking their supervisor lots of questions and wondering how work rules may be changing now. Training your managers can help ensure that they are prepared for these questions and able to accurately convey information about your policies. As a part of the training, you can also give a refresher of reasonable suspicion training to your managers. They should be skilled at recognizing and documenting impairment, so you can continue to maintain a safe workplace.
Lastly, you should review and update your drug testing policy and procedures.
Your drug testing policy should be consistent with the new law and give you the right to take disciplinary action involving marijuana when permitted by law. Do you know exactly what you will do when a license-holding employee or applicant fails a drug test due to marijuana use? Sometimes people using medical marijuana are disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which adds another layer of requirements for employees. Do you know how to respond when an employee who fails a drug test mentions having a disability? You do not want to be improvising in that situation. Now is the time to create a detailed procedure to follow in these instances. Have a Tulsa HR company like CYB or legal counsel review your policy and Standard Operating Procedure ahead of time so that you are ready to take action if necessary, in response to marijuana use in the workplace.
CYB, the best Tulsa HR company, can help you handle any of these issues. Let the HR experts be on-call to help you as issues arise and to create policies and procedures so that you are set up and prepared to handle things ahead of time. Contact Google’s highest-rated Tulsa HR company for your free initial consultation. Call us today at 1-833-CYB-ASAP.