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Total Articles: 28

AG’s Conflicting Marijuana Policy Comments Leave Some Dazed And Confused

If you have been following recent comments by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an attempt to predict marijuana policy under the Trump Administration, you might be left scratching your head. In recent comments before Congress, Sessions seemed to provide a clear indication that the federal government would not soon change course to ramp up enforcement of federal anti-marijuana law. Then, just last week, Sessions seemed to suggest that his Justice Department might soon take a tougher enforcement stance on recreational marijuana – something of particular interest to the growing list of states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

Quest Diagnostics Report Reveals That Prescription Drug Misuse Remains Widespread

A new Quest Diagnostics report released on September 6, 2017 reveals that over 50% of drug test results showed evidence of misuse of prescription drugs. The report, entitled “Prescription Drug Misuse in America: Diagnostic Insights in the Growing Drug Epidemic,” examined 3.4 million prescription medication monitored lab tests performed by Quest between 2011 and 2016.

In the First Case of its Kind, Court Rules Federal Law Does Not Trump Employee Protections under State Medical Marijuana Law

Employers nationwide take note: if your workplace drug and alcohol-testing policies take a zero tolerance approach to medical marijuana because the use, distribution, or possession of marijuana is unlawful under federal law, a recent federal court decision interpreting state law could be a game-changer. On August 8, 2017, in Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company LLC, d/b/a Bride Brook Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, a Connecticut federal district court held that various federal laws prohibiting use and sale of marijuana do not preempt Connecticut’s Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA), which protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination based on medical marijuana use permitted under state law.

Federal Law Does Not Preempt Connecticut Medical Marijuana Law Employment Discrimination Prohibition

Federal law does not preempt the Connecticut medical marijuana statute’s prohibition on employers’ firing or refusing to hire qualified medical marijuana patients, even if they test positive on an employment-related drug test, the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut has held. Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co., LLC, d/b/a Bride Brook Health & Rehab. Ctr., No. 3:16-cv-01938 (D. Conn. Aug. 8, 2017). This is a case of first impression that may have potentially sweeping implications for state law and the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Sobering Results: Recent Study Suggests Drug Use Is Up Among American Workers

A recent study conducted by the drug testing company Quest Diagnostics indicates that the rate of positive drug test results among the U.S. workforce is at a 12-year high, driven by increased cocaine, amphetamines, and marijuana use. The study’s results track an alarming trend that highlights the continued need for vigilance for signs of use and abuse in the workplace as well as comprehensive prevention, testing, and treatment programs.

QBB Review: What employers should know—but often don’t—about employee substance abuse

Many employers believe that alcohol and substance abusers are primarily unemployed or unemployable. Data shows the opposite. Indeed, one study estimates that 90 percent of alcoholics and 74 percent of drug addicts are employed. Recent studies also demonstrate that 8.7 percent of full-time U.S. workers ages 18 to 64 are heavy drinkers, and 8.6 percent of these workers used illegal drugs in the past month. The upshot, for employers, is that alcohol or substance abuse is almost certainly affecting, or has recently affected, at least one—if not more—of your employees.

eLABORate: April 20th Puts Medicinal Marijuana Laws in High Focus

Employers should know that popular culture celebrates April 20th a/k/a “Four-Twenty” as an unofficial holiday. Four-twenty is a code term that refers to the annual consumption of marijuana and the celebration of cannabis culture. Observances that revolve around the number 4:20 include smoking or ingesting marijuana at 4:20 p.m. and during other portions of the day. Because employers may anticipate an unusual number of “call-ins” and/or “no-shows” on April 20th, it is time to review the medicinal marijuana laws and drug testing statutes that impact employment eligibility and other workplace issues.

U.S. Senators Seek Clarification From Department of Justice Regarding Federal Marijuana Enforcement Priorities

In light of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s recent comments that the Department of Justice may seek “greater enforcement” of the federal laws prohibiting the recreational use of marijuana, eleven U.S. Senators sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions seeking clarification of the DOJ’s position.

Trump Administration May Enforce Federal Laws Prohibiting Non-Medical Use of Marijuana

In one of the Trump Administration’s first public statements on recreational marijuana, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated in a press conference today that the Department of Justice may seek “greater enforcement” of the federal laws prohibiting the recreational use of marijuana.

FMCSA Finalizes Rule On National Drug and Alcohol Testing Clearinghouse

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a final rule on December 2, 2016 establishing a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse database for commercial motor vehicle drivers. This new database will contain information pertaining to violations of the DOT’s drug and alcohol testing regulations for holders of commercial driver’s licenses. Although the rule takes effect on January 4, 2017, the implementation date for FMCSA-regulated employers is January 6, 2020.

The Employment Law Implications of the Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

On November 8, 2016, voters in several states passed medical or recreational marijuana measures each of which will likely impact employers. As this area of law is developing quickly, and since the Trump administration’s position on marijuana is unclear, employers may want to consider the impact of these new laws as well as watch for new developments.

Seven States Pass New Marijuana Laws on Election Day

Election Day 2016 saw voters approve new marijuana laws in seven states. There are now a total of 28 states (plus the District of Columbia) with medical marijuana laws and 8 states (plus the District of Columbia) with recreational marijuana laws. Arizona’s proposed recreational marijuana law did not pass.

The Straight Dope on the Marijuana Measures: Which Ones Passed and Which Went Up in Smoke

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, voters in nine states with marijuana-related measures on their ballots made their voices heard. California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada voters approved recreational adult-use marijuana initiatives while Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas approved medical marijuana initiatives. These results are considered to be a big win in favor of marijuana reform. Marijuana possession and use continues to be illegal under federal law, however.

Marijuana Ballot Initiatives Big Winner on Election Night

While much attention focused on the presidential election, at least three states voted to legalize recreational marijuana on election night with a fourth likely to join them. Voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada voted to legalize recreational marijuana state-wide. Meanwhile, those voting "yes" for a similar measure in Maine have a slight lead, though the race is still listed as "too close to call."

Marijuana Legalization Efforts Enjoy Success, Demonstrating Major Shift in Approach to Drug Regulation and Use

Election Day 2016 proved to be a historic occasion for initiatives favoring expanded access to marijuana. On November 8, California and Nevada joined West Coast early adopters Alaska, Oregon, and Washington in choosing to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. On the East Coast, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. Whether Maine will join Massachusetts in approving recreational marijuana use in New England is yet undecided, as an initiative to legalize is currently too close to call with 91 percent of the vote counted, according to local press. Arizona voters, however, rejected an initiative to legalize marijuana sales for recreational purposes.

Eight States Will Vote On New Marijuana Laws On Election Day 2016

Currently, twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws, while four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. On Election Day 2016, eight more states will consider adopting such laws.

eLABORate: April 20th Puts Medicinal Marijuana Laws in High Focus

Employers should know that popular culture celebrates April 20th a/k/a “Four-Twenty” as an unofficial holiday. Four-twenty is a code term that refers to the annual consumption of marijuana and the celebration of cannabis culture. Observances that revolve around the number 4:20 include smoking or ingesting marijuana at 4:20 p.m. and during other portions of the day. Because employers may anticipate an unusual number of “call-ins” and/or “no-shows” on April 20th, it is time to review the medicinal marijuana laws and drug testing statutes that impact employment eligibility and other workplace issues.

Up in Smoke: Federal Court Rejects Claim that Employer Failed to Accommodate Medical Marijuana Use

As more states legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, the interplay among such laws, accommodation requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or equivalent state laws, and employers’ drug-free workplace policies is playing out in the courts.

Why Employers Need to Update Their Workplace Drug and Alcohol Policies in 2016

The beginning of a new year is a good time for employers to review their workplace policies to assess what changes are necessary. Employers that conduct drug and alcohol testing should consider updating their substance abuse testing policies now, particularly if they have not done so in several years.

President Announces Efforts to Target Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Epidemic

During a visit to the state of West Virginia on October 21, 2015, President Obama addressed the country’s growing prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic by announcing several efforts to address these issues.

Drinking On The Job? Five Things Employers Need To Know In The Wake Of The USC Football Coach Controversy

Football powerhouse USC (University of Southern California) fired its head football coach Steve Sarkisian on October 12, 2015, after it was widely reported that the coach had been under the influence of alcohol during several team events. His termination can teach a lesson to any employer who wonders how it should handle the sometimes-touchy situation involving possible alcohol abuse by an employee. This article presents the five things you need to know in order to navigate this problem.

New CDC Report Discusses Trends In Growing U.S. Heroin Epidemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have published a new report discussing trends in the growing heroin epidemic in the United States. The July 7, 2015 report examined data from the 2002 – 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which revealed significant increases in heroin use and addiction, as well as a 286% increase in heroin-related overdose deaths during that period. The greatest increases in heroin use have occurred in groups with historically low rates of heroin use, including women and individuals with private insurance and higher incomes. In the past decade, the gaps between men and women, between individuals with low and higher incomes and between individuals with Medicaid and private insurance have narrowed with respect to use of the drug.

School Bus Driver’s Alcohol-Laced Cupcakes Did Not Violate Employer’s Rule Barring Intoxicating Beverages From Company Property, Arbitrator Rules

A labor arbitrator has upheld the grievance of a school bus driver who was terminated from her job with a bus company after she brought alcohol-laced cupcakes to work, and offered them to other employees. He found that she was not fired for “just cause” under the collective bargaining agreement because the bus company’s policy barring the presence and use of “intoxicating beverages,” on which the employer relied, was inapplicable to the grievant’s alcohol-infused cupcakes. First Student, Inc. and Teamsters Local Union 957, 134 LA (Bloomberg/BNA) 1699 (May 26, 2015) (Fullmer, J., Arb.).

Miners & Marijuana

As in other industries, mining companies must contend with employees and contractors using or being under the influence of illegal drugs in the workplace. Marijuana is one of the most prominent substances detected in drug screens of job applicants. Mine operators have routinely made blanket prohibitions against marijuana for safety and legal compliance. But what about marijuana prescribed for medical purposes? And what about recreational use of marijuana during non-work hours in states that allow marijuana use without a prescription? These are just a few of the issues faced by employers.

National Safety Council Urges Employers to Take Steps to Address Employee Addiction to Opioid Pain Medications

The National Safety Council (“NSC”) has published a report entitled Prescription Pain Medications: A Fatal Cure For Injured Workers, urging employers to educate employees about the dangers of using opioid pain medications – such as addiction and death – while also taking steps to avoid potential liability in workers’ compensation and personal injury litigation.

Growing Opioid Abuse Presents Problems For Employers

Over the past 25 years, workplace drug testing has become increasingly widespread and accepted and for good reason — many companies that implemented drug testing saw dramatic decreases in employee accidents and injuries. In some cases, the declines exceeded 70 percent. Moreover, many applicants who use illegal drugs now know better than to waste their time applying for work at companies who make their testing policies known.

Be Careful Discriminating Against Medical Marijuana Users

There are sixteen states which allow legal medical marijuana use. However, most of them do not have laws which protect employees from discrimination based on their drug use. Do you fire someone who fails a drug test, even if you know they legally use medical marijuana?

Up In Smoke: The Rise Of Medical-Marijuana Laws.

As more states enact laws allowing patients to ingest marijuana as a means of coping with various diseases and symptoms, the question quickly arises for human resources professionals about how this affects the employment relationship. If employees are legally allowed to smoke at home to manage night seizures, are they still going to be affected by marijuana the next day at work? Do you have to accommodate this?
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