What If California Legalizes Pot?

Posted on October 20, 2010 by - Also by this author

Passage of Proposition 19 would mean that there is legal risk in firiing an employee who has a “medical card” for legal use of marijuana. What will be the fallout for drug-free workplaces? 
 
With Proposition 19 firmly splitting California voters 50-50 two weeks before Election Day, it certainly generates much discussion in the workplace about the effects it might have.
 
Recently I asked an employee to take a random drug test. The employee presented me with a medical card indicating he had the legal right to smoke marijuana and was prescribed marijuana to address his illness. Fortunately, this employee is not employed as a chauffeur or even in a safety sensitive job, so the ramifications were not as deep as they could have been.
 
It did require me to step back and figure out how I was going to handle this and prompted me to call my attorney for discussion. If I terminate the employee, I felt I could have some legal exposure. It is considered a medical condition and if I was to terminate an employee because they had asthma, for example, I am sure I would find myself in court. I could not justify in my mind terminating someone for a medical condition, yet marijuana usage is completely contrary to our own company policy.
 
In examining the current laws of California, people are allowed to grow, buy and possess marijuana as long as they have a card issued by a doctor. While the voters approved of this measure some years ago, federal authorities have shut down local marijuana dispensaries. While California finds medical marijuana use acceptable, the U.S. government clearly does not approve of this because it is still against federal law.
 
The same position applies between a private company and the state of California. As a company, we are allowed to have our own policies and the right to have a drug-free workplace. We also have some clients under contract who require us to maintain a drug-free workplace. Prop 19, if passed, builds up to the dilemma of tolerating employees with a medical condition who can legally use marijuana, or denying them employment based on the need for a drug-free workplace but then discriminating against them because of a medical condition.
 
Thank goodness that chauffeurs are completely governed by DOT rules and there is no question about whether or not a medical card is valid. The law is very clear that commercial drivers must be randomly tested and cannot operate a vehicle if found to be using drugs. It doesn’t matter if they have a medical card or medical condition; the decision is not ours to make. Office workers and non-safety sensitive positions do present challenges and I am wondering how other people handle this or plan to handle it.
 

— Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More LCT Blog Blog Posts

March 8, 2017

Immigration Issues Can Hit Limo Operators

Illegal or not, immigrants in one California region spend hard-earned money on renting stretch limousines.

March 1, 2017

Did The Dent Fairy Come To Visit You?

Unlike the tooth fairy and baby teeth, the dent fairy never runs out of vehicles.

February 15, 2017

My Unofficial International LCT Show Agenda

The suite parties, charity fundraisers, and off-the-grid get togethers round out a complete global industry trade show.

February 14, 2017

How To Practice Common Sense Customer Service

It's one of the most important and difficult qualities to hire for, since it emerges in unexpected situations on the job.

February 1, 2017

3 Big Fouls From My First Uber Rides

Operators don't have much to worry about if TNC drivers keep acting like this.

See More

Facebook Comments ()

Comments (0)

Post a Comment

Submit

Blog

See More

LCT Store

LCT Magazine - May 2017 $12.95 Post International LCT Show Issue COVER STORY: * Best Operators of 2017: Their Winning Secrets Revealed * *



Connect

Experience the three annual industry events for networking for business, showcasing vehicles and products, and getting the tools for success.

Read About Your Region

What’s Happening Near You?
Click on any state to see the latest industry news and events in that region.

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Metro Magazine

Serving the bus and passenger rail industries for more than a century

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

Please sign in or register to .    Close