Key Takeaways

Legalization of marijuana use is increasing at the state level, but its use is still illegal at the federal level.

Employers must be familiar with the rights of the worker and the employer with regard to marijuana use at the state level.

Unlike with alcohol, no definitive way exists to test for THC impairment.

THC can remain in the bloodstream for days or weeks after initial impairment.

Many nicknames are used for the drug produced by drying and processing leaves from the flowering plant Cannabis sativa, which is most commonly known as marijuana (Vertava Health, n.d.).

Since 1996, 36 U.S. states and territories have legalized marijuana for medical reasons, and another 15 have legalized the recreational use of marijuana (NCSL, 2020b). While the legalization of marijuana is increasing at the state level, the federal level has become mixed with marijuana’s twin, hemp, being made legal and marijuana remaining illegal, any of which could change with the next administration (Agriculture Improvement Act, 2018). The health effects of marijuana may be in dispute, but marijuana impairs employees who use it to varying degrees in ways similar to alcohol, with new users affected differently than regular users (Hall, 2014). The psychoactive compound in marijuana has increased over the past few decades as growers try to make their product more potent, thus making impairment an even larger problem (Hall, 2014). While a blood alcohol content of 0.08 is widely recognized as legally drunk, there is no similar government standard for impairment from marijuana.

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