by Javier F. Garcia
Washington’s new law concerning recreational marijuana use takes effect December 6, but it doesn’t require changes in employer policies.
Initiative 502 (I-502), approved in the November 6 election, is intended to make the production and sale of marijuana a regulated, state-licensed system similar to that for controlling hard alcohol. It means that adults over 21 no longer will be prosecuted under state law for possessing limited amounts of marijuana and using it in private.
Marijuana use remains illegal under federal law. Therefore, federal contractors and employers receiving federal funding will want to avoid policies that allow consumption of marijuana on the premises to prevent loss of funding and federal prosecution. Also, many employers have drug-free workplace policies and/or collective bargaining agreements that prohibit the use of alcohol and drugs, including marijuana in the workplace.