St. Louis Record

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Illinois pot law could have impacts on Missouri employees

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By Amanda Smith-Teutsch | Jan 23, 2020


Marijuana is now legal for recreational purposes in Illinois. That’s creating headaches for some employers in Missouri, especially those who have operations close to the Missouri-Illinois state line. 

As of right now, Missouri only allows people with prescriptions for medical marijuana to have pot in their possession. But there’s nothing to stop Missouri residents from crossing into Illinois to enjoy marijuana there. 

Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri, says marijuana use and the workplace is an issue of great concern to his member companies. It could also have long lasting impacts on people’s jobs.

“The legalization of marijuana for recreational use in states that border Missouri, such as Illinois, will likely increase the number of employees reporting for work under the influence of marijuana. We have heard most employers are continuing to observe and enforce their drug-free policies,” Mc Carty said in an email interview. 

He pointed out that some employers were allowing an exception for people with prescriptions for medical marijuana under the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, people without that exemption could be risking their jobs, he said. 

“Employees without medical marijuana cards have no protection under the law and we believe employers will continue to enforce their drug-free policies with little or no modification,” he said. “While marijuana testing is not precise, the fact the marijuana is in the employee's bloodstream may be enough to cause an employee to be unsafe or not as alert as if they had not used marijuana at all.”

McCarty said employers will likely use tests that show if the person is under the influence at a given moment, and has not merely used marijuana in the past, as they become available. 

Some companies could be hesitant to penalize people who test positive for marijuana as unemployment is low and it could be difficult to find replacement workers. 

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