More Than One-Third of Business Owners Not Prepared to Manage Legalized Marijuana in the Workplace

Staff Report

Thursday, June 20th, 2019

46 states and Washington, D.C., have enacted legislation allowing the consumption of marijuana or Cannabidiol with or without prescriptions. New research from Paychex, Inc., a leading provider of integrated human capital management solutions for payroll, benefits, human resources, and insurance services, suggests that more than one-third of business owners with fewer than 500 employees are not yet prepared to manage the impact of legalized marijuana on the workplace.

According to the Paychex study, business owners are slightly more prepared to manage legalized medical use than recreational use:

Legalized medical use

42% - very prepared

24% - somewhat prepared

34% - not prepared

Legalized recreational use

39% - very prepared

23% - somewhat prepared

38% - not prepared

"Marijuana legalization for medical or recreational use introduces new complexities for businesses to navigate when it comes to workplace drug enforcement policies," said Martin Mucci, Paychex president and CEO. "While marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, the legislation in each jurisdiction varies and may require business owners, especially those operating in multiple states, to comply in different capacities. Developing appropriate policies for industries with employees operating heavy machinery, for example, may present unique challenges. To help our customers navigate these new laws, which can vary by industry and location, we're encouraging business owners and HR leaders to work with their Paychex HR specialist or another trusted business advisor to develop an appropriate drug policy that works for them."

The study revealed that, among industry sectors, professional services is the most prepared (70%) for medical use and the least prepared for recreational use (58%). Manufacturing and retail/wholesale are the most prepared industries for recreational use (tied at 64%), while manufacturing is the least prepared for medical use (64%).

For William Hummer, DDS, a dental practice in San Leandro, Calif., the legalization of marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use has sporadically impacted patients entering the door, but the office policy restricting employees from arriving at work under the influence of marijuana remains intact. 

"California legalized marijuana a few years ago, and so far the only impact we've seen is the occasional patient arriving to the office under the influence," said Nicole Corvello, registered dental assistant and office manager at William Hummer, DDS. "When it comes to our employees, we follow the rule that if you can't work and drink alcohol, you can't work under the influence of marijuana. It remains our office's position that what people choose to do on their own time is their business."