One question I have received from several clients in the wake of the passage of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act is whether they can prevent their police officers and firefighters from using marijuana outside of work. When medical marijuana became legal in 2014 many local governments included provisions in their personnel policies prohibiting their police and firefighters from using marijuana outside of work, and want to know whether they can continue to include such a provision in their personnel policies.
The answer is “no". As we have discussed, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act amended the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to include cannabis as one of the substances that employers could not prohibit their employees from using outside of work. No exception was created for public safety employees. There is nothing in either the Right to Privacy Act or the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act that permits a local government to prohibit public safety officials from using marijuana outside of work.
Ultimately, local governments should treat marijuana the same way they treat alcohol. Prohibit employees from using it on the job or coming to work under the influence of marijuana, but don’t have policies restricting its use outside of work.
Local governments should review their personnel policies and delete any provisions prohibiting public safety officers, or any other employees, from using marijuana outside of work. Feel free to contact us if you have questions about your personnel policies or would like us to review them to make sure that they are compliant with the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.