Grow, Gift, Repair

Looks to be a busy legislative session in 2019

Drug Use and Employment: Case law is beginning to pile up on the limits of marijuana use prohibitions in the workplace, to the extent that it too should be settled in the Legislature rather than piecemeal in the courts. Clearly there will need to be different standards for different jobs. Police, first responders, or anyone who gets behind the wheel of any moving vehicle or piece of heavy machinery will need to come under a different set of rules than someone who spends the day staring at a computer screen.

Employers aren’t being asked to put up with impaired employees on the job no matter what their drug of choice. But what about the employee who smokes a perfectly legal joint at bedtime rather than, say, having a glass of brandy?

State Senator Jason Lewis is already working on legislation aimed at striking a sensible balance to protect employees who may use marijuana at home, while protecting employers from the dangers posed by drugged workers. His inspiration was the case of Bernadette Coughlin, fired by food service company Sodexo for flunking a drug test after she fell at work and broke two bones. Coughlin has acknowledged occasionally inhaling marijuana vapor at bedtime, but denies ever being impaired at work. Reaching a balance is tricky, in part because the issue of impairment isn’t easy to define. (See above.)

Community Host Agreements: The slow rollout of recreational pot shops has been blamed in part on the absence of those all-essential community host agreements. Without such agreements, potential retailers can kiss their chances of getting a cannabis license goodbye. Some communities are acting out of an abundance of understandable caution. No one wants traffic jams, or sales near schools. But some communities view such businesses as potential cash cows, demanding perks and payments in excess of what the statewide law requires. The Cannabis Control Commission has insisted that it doesn’t have the authority to overrule such agreements and wants the Legislature to clarify its responsibility.