Pubdate: Sun, 16 Dec 2012
Source: Times-Tribune, The (Scranton PA)
Copyright: 2012
Author: David Falchek
Page: H1


Though Marijuana Legal in Some States, It's Unlikely to Change 
Workplace Policies.

Marijuana use is legal in Colorado and Washington, but Pennsylvanians 
whose workplaces have random drug testing should stick to more 
conventional activities if visiting those states.

The legalization of marijuana in other states is unlikely to change 
workplace policies in Pennsylvania.

Just as an employer could dismiss someone for showing up to work with 
alcohol in his or her system, they could do so for marijuana, whether 
it was used out-of-state legally or not.

"Every employer is entitled to expect 100 percent of their employees' 
concentration, memory and service," said Scranton attorney Paul 
Jennings, an employment law specialist. "The decriminalization of 
marijuana is no different than the decriminalization of alcohol. It 
will have no impact on workplace policies."

Alcohol leaves no trace in the bloodstream after 24 hours. But 
marijuana can be detected in the blood one month after use. An 
employer can make the case that so long as a substance is in one's 
system, then the person is under its effects. More commonly, however, 
Mr. Jennings said an employer who wants to sack an employee for a 
legally questionable reason - such as age - will use a drug test as a 
cause for dismissal.

"Then the drug test is a subterfuge, a tool to dismiss people," he 
said. For that reason, Mr. Jennings said employees visiting Colorado 
or Washington should stick to skiing and coffee houses and "take no 
action that jeopardizes you r duty to you r employer."

The legalization prompted large employers and colleges and 
universities in those states to release statements saying they had no 
intention of changing their drug and alcohol policies. Costco said 
drug testing will remain a requirement for employment.

Boeing said any marijuana use by employees is prohibited. If the law 
won't change the environment for workers in the those state, it's 
unlikely to change it for workers anywhere else. John Bishop, Ph. D., 
a professor of human resources at Cornell University said random drug 
testing is rare because it is expensive.

More common is drug testing upon hiring. It becomes more important f 
or high security j obs, truck drivers and others where the safety of 
others is an issue he said.

"I don't expect a quick change in labor policies," he said. "Anytime 
there is a change in society norms, workplace policies evolve."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom