Legal Marijuana Hits the Street

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Twelve dispensaries in New Jersey have been approved to sell cannabis items and products commercially. “Cannabis item” means any usable cannabis, cannabis product, cannabis extract, and any other cannabis resin.
Under the state law, employers can still conduct random and pre-employment drug tests for weed use and can still ban marijuana use at work. They cannot fire, discipline or refuse to hire someone solely because the result is positive.
To enforce their rules, however, employers must have a certified Workplace Impairment Recognition Expert witness impaired behavior by an employee and a positive drug test indicating presence of marijuana in a person’s system.

The use of experts who can identify impaired workers was supposed to give clarity to employers, according to John Sarno, president of the Employers Association of New Jersey.
But it is complicated by a challenge before the state Supreme Court over the training of police departments to use Drug Recognition Experts to identify impaired drivers.

The high court appointed a Special Master, Appellate Judge Joseph Lisa, to determine whether the use of Drug Recognition Experts is based on legitimate science or junk science. The case is expected to have ramifications in the workplace over the use of experts as a right of employers.

“Employers obviously don’t want drivers or machine operators stoned” says Sarno. “Nor do we want people handling money or medical records, or customer service, for that matter to have impaired judgment.”

The central question in the court case is whether evidence obtained by Drug Recognition Experts – which, in the case, included testimony that a person is admissible under the 1923 U.S. Supreme Court decision that rejected the scientific validity of a lie detector test.

"Right now we are in a wait and see moment on whether and how employers are going to test employers for marijuana," says Sarno, noting that the pressure to sell cannabis commercially outweighed getting clarity for employers.

According to Bloomberg, 12,438 customers spent roughly $153 per purchase on the first day New Jersey authorized legal marijuana sales on April 21.

Click here for EANJ's Employer Resource: Marijuana at Work