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GUEST OPINION: Workplace Safety Jeopardized by Proposed Changes to Marijuana Legalization Bill

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The New Jersey Business & Industry Association said Thursday that proposed changes to legislation legalizing recreational marijuana would jeopardize workplace safety by removing key provisions that guaranteed employers the right to continue to enforce drug-free workplace policies.

"Any legislation that legalizes recreational marijuana must state clearly that legalization does not repeal or restrict the rights and obligations of public and private employers to maintain drug-free workplaces," NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Mike Wallace said.

"This is not an extraordinary ask of the New Jersey Legislature," Wallace said. "Other states that have legalized marijuana, including Colorado, California, and Massachusetts, allow employers to continue to enforce their drug-free workplace policies."

The proposed amendments in the Assembly committee substitute for A-4497, the "New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act," remove the employers' rights provisions that were in the original legislation, which would have protected workplaces, and the public, from impaired employees whose on-the-job drug jeopardizes safety and productivity.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote on the Assembly committee substitute for A-4497 on Monday.

"Current law allows employers to prohibit employees from coming to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs – or even legal prescription medications that are being abused," Wallace said. "If marijuana is legalized, then that law must clearly state that legalization does not force an employer to accommodate the use of legal marijuana on the job or restrict existing drug-free workplace policies." | March 14, 2019