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Time to Review Drug & Alcohol Policies – Marijuana Decriminalized in DC

Posted on February 26, 2015
Sarah ShepherdWritten by Sarah Shepherd | Email author

In recent months, the decriminalization of marijuana in the District of Columbia has been an ever present topic. Up to this point, it’s been a theoretical conversation. Though marijuana is still considered a Schedule One Illegal Drug under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812), it’s recreational use and possession in D.C. has been decriminalized. As of 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, February 26, 2015, though, the implications became real.

If you’re wondering how your company can apply this new ruling to your workforce, it’s important to consider a few things and be prepared for questions.

Revisit your Drug and Alcohol Policy

Take a few moments to review the drug policy your current team is already familiar with. Does it clearly state the definition of a controlled substance for the purpose of the policy? What about using the terms “under the influence” versus “under any influence?” Making sure that your policy is clearly stated will be crucial. If your company has a zero-tolerance policy, ensure that your language is not ambiguous or contradictory will be key.

Communicate with Your Team

Your team, from the top down, may be wondering how your company will address this change in legislation so don’t miss your chance to talk about it. For many of you, this won’t be a change to an already in place zero-tolerance policy. However, reinforcing your policy, outlining what updates might be in the pipeline, and any other important HR updates is never a bad idea.

Be Firm

Policies like these are quick to start questions being asked, so don’t be surprised if you have more than one employee who wants to know why your company’s policy may not follow state or district mandates. Should you receive questions like these, we recommend going back to your values. Often times, the reason for a zero-tolerance policy is right there. Whether it’s providing a safe workplace or wanting your team and clients to live well, you can usually find the inspiration for all policies in the mission, vision, or values you are most familiar with.

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