NJ Labor And Employment Law

The New Jersey Labor and Employment Law Blog is authored by Jay S. Becker and Joseph C. DeBlasio, shareholders in the Labor and Employment Law Practice Group, with support from the associates in the Group. It is dedicated to provide news and updates regarding all labor and employment matters throughout New Jersey.

Medical Marijuana in the Workplace?

February 17, 2010 | No Comments
Posted by Jay S. Becker

Q:  Do New Jersey employer’s need to reasonably accommodate the use of medical marijuana?

A:  On July 1, 2010 the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act takes effect, which allows for the regulated use of marijuana by patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions.  Notably, the law does not require employers to accommodate the medical use of marijuana “in the workplace”.  What does that mean?  Well, it appears to mean that an employer is not required to provide a registered user any time off during the workday to use marijuana to help alleviate pain.  But what is not yet addressed is the issue about what to do about the use of medicinal marijuana before work, during a lunch break, after work and at other off-duty periods.  Also, how will the issue about employment drug testing be addressed?  What if, for example, a registered marijuana user tests positive for drugs which is contrary to a well established, zero tolerance company policy on drugs and alcohol in the workplace?  Can an adverse employment decision be made based on that positive drug test?  And, how will an employer balance the rights of a registered user under state and federal disability laws against the employer’s right to maintain a safe and healthy workplace?

Clearly these questions and many others will have to be addressed.  The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services is expected to provide some guidance on the subject prior to the law taking effect.  For now, there are 13 other states in the country that have legalized medical marijuana, so New Jersey will be able to look to those jurisdictions for guidance in what is sure to be a very controversial and sensitive matter.


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