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The New Jersey Business & Industry Association offered recommendations to address the need for workplace safety concerns in the second public comment session offered by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) this week. 

NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Christopher Emigholz told the CRC, which is tasked with regulating New Jersey’s medical and personal-use cannabis industries, that the law falls short on allowing businesses to effectively maintain drug-free workplaces, which is essential for certain safety occupations. 

“An employer’s ability to provide for safety protections, even in safety sensitive positions such as chemical plant operators, truck drivers, operators of heavy machinery, healthcare providers, and airline employees, became significantly more difficult due to the limitations of drug testing protocols and disciplinary actions that are now contained in the law,” Emigholz said. 

“While the law specifically allows an employer to maintain a “drug free workplace,” it is now more difficult to actually enforce it.”   

Emigholz offered three specific recommendations to the CRC. 

  • First, because federal requirements that employees must test negative for cannabis is contrary to New Jersey’s law, the CRC should make it clear that where federal law conflicts with state law, the federal law governs. 
  • Second, when an employer and labor union have voluntarily entered into a collective bargaining agreement for the benefit of both sides, the provisions of such agreements should not be precluded by the cannabis legislation – even if they impose more restrictive provisions on the use of cannabis by employees.  
  • Third, because many employers may want to train their own Workplace Impairment Recognition Experts (WIREs) to make it more cost effective and convenient, the CRC should clarify that private employers do qualify as “private agencies” in order to be certified to perform this training.  

“The issue of workplace and public safety is one that employers take seriously,” Emigholz said. “While the law has created uncertainty in how to maintain a drug free workplace and has limited certain actions, this Commission has the opportunity to provide clarity and make it easier to protect both the public and the workplace.”