After the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) on Thursday promised businesses would be given guidance “very imminently” on how to deal with cannabis workplace impairment now that recreational marijuana is legal, NJBIA pressed for a more specific timetable during the CRC’s monthly meeting.
“We’re in process of finalizing some guidance that would be effective immediately upon issuance that will outline to employers the steps that they can take today to ensure that their employees are not using cannabis while at work. So that is coming very imminently here,” CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown said during a discussion on readoption of rules for cannabis businesses that are set to expire next month.
In a conversation held after the public meeting, CRC staff confirmed they will soon be issuing guidance on workplace safety and promised to meet with NJBIA and share language before the guidance is released.
Recreational marijuana sales began April 21, but the rules that employers throughout New Jersey need for training and certifying workplace impairment recognition experts (WIREs) have yet to be adopted. WIREs are required by the law that legalized the sale of recreational marijuana to adults, but without rules from the CRC on how to train and certify WIREs, employers are unable to comply with the law.
NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Ray Cantor, speaking during the public comment portion of the CRC meeting, said the business community is encouraged to hear that guidance on WIREs is coming soon and would like to help the commission to ensure what it implements is workable.
“The issue of workplace impairments, as I am sure you all recognize, is significant not only to the employer community but to the public at large,” Cantor told the commission. “We do not want accidents to happen … we need those regulations in place.”
“We are encouraged by Director Brown’s statement today that the commission will be issuing guidelines ‘very imminently,’” Cantor said. “Guidance will be helpful, but regulations are legally binding – they are what is expected through the Administrative Procedure Act, as required by law.
“While guidelines may be helpful for a short period of time, we would still recommend that the commission work on a longer term, regulatory fix,” Cantor said. “We would like to know when we would be able to see those guidelines, and when we can expect those regulations. We offer our assistance and would look forward to working with the commission and its staff.”
The state law legalizing adult-use marijuana allows employers to conduct drug testing for marijuana, but it also limits an employer’s ability to rely on a positive test in making employment decisions because cannabis can be detected in a person’s body for days after use. Unlike alcohol and other drugs, a positive cannabis test does not necessarily mean the employee was impaired at the time of the test.
As a result, WIREs are required by law to be trained and at an employer’s disposal to identify impairment. Last summer, the CRC published personal use cannabis rules that said, until standards for WIRE certifications were set, “no physical evaluation of an employee being drug tested in accordance with (the new law) shall be required.”
Because those rules were set to expire next month, the CRC must readopt rules for personal use cannabis rules. However, the training and certification process for WIREs were not part of the rules proposed for readoption on Thursday.