4 Ways to Hash It Out
Medical Marijuana in Assisted Living Communities
Recently, I’ve seen various articles and editorials where folks are recommending employers stop screening for marijuana now that medicinal use is legal in Illinois and many other states. In my view, those ideas don’t match up to the unforeseen risks your assisted living community could face by allowing medical marijuana use without proper monitoring and enforcement as you would with other controlled substances.
As always, the main concern is safety. If you allow your employees to start using medicinal marijuana without a clear policy, they become a health and safety risk to themselves and those around them. Without a policy in place, you can be sure lawyers will put your community in the cross-hairs if your employee causes a serious accident or injury while under the influence, especially when caring for and/or transporting residents.
First and foremost, you must understand the marijuana regulation and laws of your state. While you may certainly rely on the federal prohibition of marijuana possession/use to ban it in your workplace, it’s never a good idea to remain ignorant to your state-specific laws. Consult your local attorneys and/or representative to fully understand state regulations.
To minimize risk concerning employee medical marijuana use, employers should:
- Disseminate a policy prohibiting the use and possession of marijuana and other controlled substances while at work. Clearly inform employees that termination is the consequence for use or possession of recreational marijuana as it remains illegal under federal law.
- Adopt a pre-duty prescription medication and impairment substance safety policy to address medicinal marijuana as well as other prescription drug use.
- Update job descriptions and clearly identify jobs with safety-sensitive classifications; many are obvious such as those driving vehicles, managing resident medication, transporting machinery or administering community activities.
- Require employees working in such safety-sensitive jobs to disclose any prescription which has an impairing effect; this can be marijuana or narcotic prescriptions.
Be mindful that the ADA requires reasonable accommodation of a covered disability. Employees don’t need to disclose a medical condition, however, once an employee advises of a marijuana prescription, you may want to reserve the right to a fit for duty examination to address the impact of the prescription.
Marijuana may be prescribed to treat a variety of diseases, symptoms or side-effects of other drugs (e.g. to off-set the symptoms of chemotherapy) and there are a variety of marijuana extracts such as hemp oils, which have removed the THC causing the “high” or mind-altering effects. You’ll want to rely on physician advice and guidance if exceptions to your policy will be made on a case-by-case basis for such prescriptions.
To learn more about implementing medical marijuana policies, chat with us.
- 5 Steps to Combat Narcotics Abuse
- Assisted Living Case Study
- 2017 Industry Outlook Video: Senior Living
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