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Legalized Marijuana and the Construction Industry

Over three quarters of Americans now live in a state where marijuana is legal either medically or recreationally. This changing legal landscape has created complex questions for employers, such as to what extent employers can set rules regarding workers’ marijuana use off the clock.

LHSFNA Management
Noel C. Borck

These questions are even more pressing in the construction industry, where impairment on the job could result in a serious injury or fatality. In addition, being able to pass a drug test as a condition of employment – or after an on-the-job incident – is common in the construction industry.

“The Fund recommends that employers have clearly defined policies on marijuana, and most importantly, that those policies are shared with and understood by their entire workforce,” says LHSFNA Management Co-Chairman Noel C. Borck. “Additional programs, such as reasonable suspicion training for supervisors and resources for workers suffering from substance use disorders, can also support members while still maintaining a safe jobsite.”

To address these and other issues in more detail, the LHSFNA recently hosted a webinar, The Impact of Legalized Marijuana on the Construction Industry. LIUNA District Councils, Local Unions, signatory contractors and other LIUNA affiliates can watch the full webinar in the Fund’s online Webinar Archive. If you have an account to order LHSFNA publications, you already have access to this webinar and others previously hosted by the Fund. If you don’t have an account yet, you can request access here.

In this webinar, Jamie Becker, the Fund’s Director of Health Promotion, hosts a discussion with three guest speakers: Noell Woolley, Medical Program Director at the New England Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund; Tim Ryan, TriFund Field Coordinator for the LIUNA Midwest Region and Jenny Burke, Vice President, Impairment Practice at the National Safety Council.

Our panel of guest speakers covered the following topics:

  • The health effects of marijuana, particularly its potential impact on worker health and safety
  • The legal status of marijuana across the U.S. and Canada, including a look at examples of minor yet important differences on a state-by-state level
  • Impairment in the workplace, including how to structure related drug-free workplace policies and programs
  • Available resources to educate supervisors and workers

In general, even in states where marijuana is legal, employers are legally able to prohibit workers’ marijuana use on the job and set policies and procedures that require workers to pass a drug test. Because laws vary so much from state to state, the LHSFNA recommends working with an attorney to develop these policies and procedures.

The Fund’s Health Promotion Division is available to assist in the development and implementation of drug-free workplace policies and programs. For more information, visit our Drugs & Alcohol page. The Fund also offers several publications on this topic, including Answering Your Questions on Why Using Marijuana Could Cost You Your Job, Marijuana and the Drug-Free Workplace and our Marijuana toolbox talk. LIUNA affiliates and signatory contractors can order these materials free of charge after registering on our site and logging in.

[Nick Fox]

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