Chicago, IL – December 16, 2019 – InOut Labs president Tim Thoelecke was one of two featured presenters at a program entitled “Legal Cannabis and the Workplace” hosted by the Illinois State Bar Association on December 12. The program was offered by ISBA as part of its new Cannabis Law Section, and a recorded version is available from the organization’s web site.
Attorneys who participated the two-hour live webcast earned 2.0 hours of CLE (Continuing Legal Education) units. Program coordinator, Alan M. Kaplan, Principal at Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell, Ltd. was also in attendance.
In the live webcast, participants viewed presentations from Brian Dougherty, a partner at Goldstine, Skrodzki, Russian, Nemec and Hoff, Ltd. and by Thoelecke. Dougherty covered the complex legal issues that employers are challenged with, from the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA) to the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act and the Right To Privacy in the Workplace Act. Thoelecke helped attendees understand how drug testing works, specifically as how it pertains to marijuana, impairment and the risks to safety that marijuana use presents.
Recreational marijuana will become legal in Illinois in January, 2020.
“Employers are responsible for providing a safe place to work,” says Thoelecke, “and being able to maintain a drug-free workplace is an important tool for maintaining safety.”
When first approved, the Illinois recreational marijuana law provided virtually no protection for employers. The Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act was modified to protect all off duty legal behavior, and specifically named marijuana use. The law also specified the term “legal” refers to state law.
Since cannabis is federally classified as a Schedule I drug, most states with legal marijuana allow employers to rely on federal law when making employment decisions based on a positive drug test for marijuana. Most also have a “safety carve-out,” meaning that employers can drug test employees who engage in safety-sensitive work.
Thoelecke published a blog post about workplace marijuana testing, and included a number of attorneys’ legal opinions, which may help to clarify the confusing topic.
A week before the webcast, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed an amendment to the law which appears to allow employers to continue testing for marijuana as in the past. “So far, most of our clients are not making any changes to their drug testing panels,” stated Thoelecke. “Those that value safety are unwilling to compromise on marijuana.”
Dougherty recommended that all employers make sure that marijuana (both medical and recreational) is addressed specifically in company substance abuse policies.
The two presentations were followed by an interactive Q&A session moderated by Donald S. Rothschild, also a partner at Goldstine, Skrodzki, Russian, Nemec and Hoff, Ltd.
The general takeaways are that all Illinois employers should update their substance abuse policies before January 1, 2020 to address the recreational marijuana law. DOT-regulated employees (such as CDL drivers) and employers with state and federal contracts who are required to drug test are unaffected by the new law.
The new law also establishes criteria for employers to recognize and deal with marijuana impairment in the workplace. It is considered good practice to make sure supervisors undergo reasonable suspicion training.
InOut Labs offers affordable training for supervisors to recognize impairment in the workplace at http://www.inoutlabs.com/training
For more information on drug testing (with or without marijuana), contact InOut Labs at www.inoutlabs.com or 847-657-7900.