Regardless of how an employer feels about cannabis legalization, it’s a game changer for employment in New Jersey and an issue that employers need to stay close to, according to New Jersey Business and Industry Association President Michele Siekerka.
Employers and industry hopefuls gathered at NJBIA’s “The Cannabis Economy: Are You Ready?” panel at The National Conference Center in East Windsor to learn what employers should be doing today to ensure they’re reacting appropriately to the growth of the medical cannabis industry and the possibility of legalization.
A federal judge in Camden ruled in August that employers don’t have to waive mandatory drug testing requirements for a worker who is also a medical marijuana patient. Lawyers focused on the crossroads of cannabis and employment issues were quick to tell employers that they should watch the courts on all things cannabis, and that they should revisit their drug policies as needed.
“I think that were going to see courts in New Jersey becoming more and more accommodating to [medical marijuana patients], especially with the backdrop of the opioid crisis because what you’re seeing is a push to prescribe medical marijuana in lieu of opiates,” said Laura Link, cannabis lawyer at Archer Law.
“I tend to believe that the state courts in New Jersey are going to be more permissive as a general rule on this issue, but that doesn’t mean there’s not going to be a fight,” said Leo Hurley of Connell Foley. “I think it’s going to wind up being litigated to the Supreme Court.”
With legalization coming down the pike, the panel said employers should take the time to sit with the NJBIA to spell out what they’re most concerned about, so the NJBIA can lobby for a law that addresses their concerns.
“You need to tell your story to the [NJ]BIA while it’s still in this phase, while it’s still being developed so that the language is in there,” said Jason Redd, director of government and regulatory affairs at Gibbons PC. “So it’s clear that these things don’t have to be litigated, that it’s very clear as to how you interact with your employees, so that it’s not left up to judicial determination.”