NJBIA's Public Policy Forum: The Road to Recovery REGISTER

Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36) introduced legislation on Friday to promote workplace safety by conforming the new recreational cannabis law with existing state and federal standards for regulated industries and professions. 

“Now that recreational marijuana use has been legalized we need to take additional steps to protect both employees and employers in jobs where safety standards are needed,” Sarlo said in a statement.  

There are state and federal rules for regulated industries and professions that need to be brought into conformance with marijuana legalization so that workers and others aren’t put at riskI have been outspoken on this issue and am now following through with legislation.” 

Senator Sarlo’s proposal would ensure that regulated professions and industries with special safety requirements can prohibit on-the-job use of alcohol and drugs, including marijuana.  

The bill would address potential conflicts between the law and standards governing workplace safety in regulated professions, including law enforcement, medicine and healthcare, education and childcare, building trades, utilities, heavy construction, truck drivers and equipment operators.  

NJBIA lauded the proposal as needed and appropriate to better ensure workplace safety. 

“It is critical that regulated industries, particularly those which require use of heavy machinery, have as much in the way of workplace safety provisions as possible,” said NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Ray Cantor. “We thank Sen. Sarlo for proposing this legislation and we look forward to working with the Legislature to best address the safety concerns of the employer communities.” 

“Marijuana may be legal, but it’s not safe for certain workers to be under the influence while on the job,” Sarlo added. “There should be no confusion about workers’ rights and employer responsibilities to protect workplace safety. At the same time, I want to protect innocent employees who use recreational marijuana on their own time without realizing they could unknowingly put their job at risk by violating the drug-free workplace standards.” 

The safety practices employers could use to prevent worker impairment in at-risk workplaces would include drug testing, employee performance, and provisions for operating motor vehicles and heavy machinery.