With sales of recreational marijuana set to begin in New Jersey on Thursday, NJBIA is urging the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission to take appropriate and long-delayed action for employers to better ensure workplace safety.
Under state law signed 14 months ago, the CRC was tasked with adopting standards for the training and certification of Workplace Impairment Recognition Experts, or WIREs, to determine an employee’s impairment from marijuana.
Those standards, however, have yet to be proposed by the CRC.
“With the increased usage of recreational cannabis due to its legalization, there is certainly more risk of employees failing a drug test or being high at work and employers are currently, at best, challenged to take an adverse action,” said NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Ray Cantor.
“We cannot and should not wait for an accident to happen before the state acts on workplace safety.”
The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act 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.
As a result, WIREs are also required by law to be trained and at an employer’s disposal to identify impairment.
Last August, 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.”
In continuing to impart urgency in promulgating regulations for WIREs, NJBIA has also made recommendations to the CRC in establishing those standards, including:
- To allow for a wide variety of entities to provide training for WIREs, including businesses and private business associations, to ensure more are trained and deployed to address the needs of workplace safety;
- To allow for the use of national certification boards or other professional accreditations (e.g. medical review officers) to certify WIREs, rather than relying on a narrow set of criteria specified by State Police;
- To allow physical examinations by WIREs to be done virtually, which is consistent with growing trends in the medical field and, combined with impairment detection technologies, can significantly reduce the cost to employers, speed detection of impairment, and ensure the protection of the workplace;
- To provide that an “adverse employment action” does not preclude employers from removal of certain employees who are prohibited from doing their assigned jobs because of their inability to pass a drug test for cannabis, as required by various federal laws.
NJBIA is also hosting an event on May 4, called ‘Your Business & Cannabis: It’s Complicated’ to help employers know how the recreational cannabis law impacts their business and what they can do to protect their employees and their businesses.
Reporters interested in covering the event can contact Bob Considine at firstname.lastname@example.org.