In the November 2012 election, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. The law went into effect on January 1, 2013.
Massachusetts now joins 17 other states and Washington D.C. in legalizing medical marijuana use. We previously wrote about some of the difficulties employers face under those other laws (See October 14, 2011 post "But I Have a Prescription for that Marijuana Dude"). This new law presents similar issues.
Under the new law, there is an exception that says that the law does not require accommodation of on-site medical use of marijuana in any place of employment. The law is silent, however, regarding employer’s continued use of drug tests and the attempts to rely on a positive test for marijuana. Presumably, it will be interpreted to also mean that employees cannot be under the influence at work, but that remains to be seen once the regulations are implemented and the first legal challenges are made under the law.
In the meantime, an interesting part of the law is the "personal caregiver" Section 4 which states that a personal caregiver cannot be punished under any law or denied any right or privilege for possessing marijuana for the use of a patient. Employers who provide health care services, such as home health aids and hospice workers, need to be aware this may mean that you cannot discipline an employee who is found to be in possession of marijuana at the workplace.
High times indeed.