Haze of confusion

How employers and insurers are affected by a patchwork of state marijuana laws


The spread of marijuana legalization continues apace. More than 30 states and the District of Columbia now have programs that allow qualifying patients to access medical marijuana products. Another 13 states permit non-intoxicating medical products. Eleven states and D.C. permit recreational marijuana, where adults over the age of 21 can possess and use the drug.

But what is the impact of legal marijuana on workplace safety, employer duties and obligations and workers compensation insurance? Every state’s laws and regulations governing these issues are different, not to mention that federal law prohibits marijuana outright. To complicate matters further, state laws and regulations are constantly changing. Employment and insurance activities once prohibited are often now permitted – or required.

This report examines the following questions:

  • How does marijuana intoxication work and how might it impact workplace safety?
  • What accommodations, if any, are employers expected to provide for workers that use marijuana?
  • Does workers compensation insurance provide benefits to injured employees testing positive for marijuana? What about reimbursement to injured workers for medical marijuana?

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Spotlight on: marijuana and employment