Marijuana Use and the Workplace: What Hotel Operators Need to Know
By John Welty President, SUITELIFE Underwriting Managers, Ryan Specialty Group | March 22, 2020
"For the times they are a changing." When Bob Dylan wrote those lyrics in the early 1960s, he likely never imagined where we are as a society today. Much has changed since the 1960s and arguably, most changes have been for the better.
One thing that had long remained the same was that marijuana was considered an illegal drug in the United States – until recent years. As some states have relaxed their positions on marijuana possession and usage, federal law still considers the substance illegal. The details are confusing to say the least, but today, in some states, individuals are permitted to use marijuana, both medicinally and recreationally.
So what does this mean for employers? Though many business owners might agree that what employees do on their own time is their own business, they likely don't want employees coming into work under the influence of any substance. Allowing impaired employees to operate in the workplace could open the door to a variety of new risk exposures not only for the employee, but to the business itself – and for the purposes of this article, a hotel and its guests.
Think about it: with laws varying from state to state, human resources departments at hotel brands operating in multiple states will have different rules and guidelines on drug testing in different states, and they may not be in line with federal policy.
In addition, employees and employers may be confused about the legality of different types of marijuana. For example, what are the rules around CBD (cannabidiol) vs. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)? CBD, which has nonpsychoative components, seems to be available everywhere now in a variety of forms like lotions, teas and supplements. The THC in marijuana is what produces the psychoactive effects. Are either forms acceptable in the workplace?
To complicate things further, hemp, which is derived from cannabis but has a different chemical make-up than marijuana, is legal in all 50 states.