The push to legalize recreational marijuana is sweeping the U.S. The number of states that allow recreational cannabis use continues to grow.


As states loosen their restrictions on marijuana use, employers are left with a number of questions. How does legalization affect the hiring process? What questions can employers ask – and what questions are off the table?


Here are a few things employers should consider when it comes to hiring and legalized marijuana use. These general guidelines shouldn’t be used as legal advice. For specific legal questions, talk to a licensed attorney.


Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

One of the biggest challenges about state legalization of marijuana use is that marijuana use remains proscribed by federal law. Deciding how to handle marijuana questions among workers, then, will depend in part on how state and federal laws apply to specific jobs and hiring processes.


For the foreseeable future, workers directly affected by federal laws will still need to avoid marijuana. Truck drivers subject to FMCSA standards, for example, will continue to be subject to Department of Transportation drug testing rules that screen for marijuana use. As both federal and state rules change, however, employers will need to stay on top of changes.


Every state handles marijuana a little differently.

Currently, 35 states approve the medical use of marijuana, 15 states and Washington DC allow recreational use, and one state – South Dakota – is litigating its recreational cannabis law. Ten states allow recreational use of products containing CBD or low levels of THC, the active ingredients in marijuana.


Even among states with the same levels of restrictions, no two approach marijuana consumption the same way. Legal amounts, legal ages for use, and other rules differ from state to state – and some of these rules have profound impacts on the hiring process. Knowing the rules in each state where your company does business is a must.


Employers may have to handle marijuana differently in different circumstances.

Even when employers are clear on federal and state law, certain circumstances raise their own questions. Many workers’ compensation policies, for example, won’t cover instances where a worker was intoxicated by marijuana while on the job. A review of insurance terms is also a must for companies that seek to understand how recreational marijuana might affect their workers and business.



Need assistance navigating the ever-changing employment laws? 

Hiring can be a challenge as laws and policies change. With help from the team at Odell Studner, you can create a hiring process that helps ensure you have the qualified talent you need when you need it. Contact us today to learn more.