Recreational Marijuana: Impact on Employee Retention, Recruitment

In the newest podcast episode of The Workplace, California Chamber of Commerce General Counsel and Executive Vice President Erika Frank is joined by employment law attorney Jennifer Shaw to discuss how legalization of marijuana is affecting both workers and business owners in California.

The two employment law experts dive into details about the profound impact that legalization of recreational pot is having on both recruitment and retention of employees.

They further discuss the parameters of both pre-employment and reasonable suspicion drug testing and provide perspective on an employer’s ability to maintain a drug-free workplace.

According to Frank, California is in an interesting place because the booming economy is creating a situation where qualified workers are becoming harder to find. This is compounded by the fact that a significantly higher number of job applicants are unable to pass drug screening tests due to more prevalence of both recreational and medicinal marijuana use.

Shaw cautions employers against creating unexpected liability by relaxing their drug testing practices and discusses examples of how troublesome situations can easily be created.

Both Frank and Shaw discuss the problems created when employees or potential employees assume they are engaging in legal activity and do not understand the issues created because employers have the right to drug test and/or maintain a drug-free workplace.

Shaw underscores the fact that the California Supreme Court has made it clear that employees can’t come to work under the influence or test positive for marijuana use simply because recreational and medicinal use is legal in the state.

Frank also points out that employers should be clear in establishing policies and giving guidance to applicants and current employees about the company’s drug testing requirements.

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