HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Recreational marijuana could soon be legal in Connecticut, but there are still questions about whether or not it can get someone in trouble at work.

The drug is still illegal under federal law, creating a difficult decision for some companies.

It appears lawmakers are okay with doing what other states are doing, leaving it up to employers, if marijuana comes legal.

But other said that could change if marijuana is legalized, and employers respond too strongly.

“I assume that it would be treated much, by employers, much like they treat other substances and alcohol,” said State Senator Julie Kushner, co-chairwoman of the state’s Labor Committee.

“If folks are using on the outside, we can't control that, but we can control keeping a safe workplace,” said John Blair, associate counsel for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

However, that doesn’t mean employees will look to punish workers who consume marijuana on free time.

Human resources consultant David Lewis said many companies in states that allow recreational marijuana, treat the drug the same way they do alcohol.

“What most companies came to the conclusion of was that it was better to take marijuana out of the equation for drug testing,” said Lewis, CEO of OperationsInc.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposal regarding recreational marijuana gives businesses some flexibility.

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association said this is to make sure people with certain jobs, like those involving heavy machines, aren’t showing up under the influence.

It's also for companies who sign contracts with the federal government and may need to do regular drug testing.

“I don’t expect employers to be that onerous, I just think they need to be able to have the right to test. It’s hard to know where to draw the line,” Blair said.

Lawmakers supporting the bill said they understand that.

Kushner said her concern would be for companies trying to set zero tolerance policies for all employees.

“To start with, I think it would be very much like today how employers address the use of alcohol and other substances in off time,” Kushner said.

Some companies have done that in other states, based on the views of top officials.

But Lewis said even some of them changed their policies when unemployment fell, and they faced the decision of turning away top candidates.

“Some of those organizations have been burned,” Lewis said.

Now the state has said companies cannot turn away applicants or punish employees who qualify for medical marijuana. But they can set rules about usage in the workplace or showing up under the influence.

Copyright 2021 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(1) comment

SunnyDay

No need for experts here. Watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Jeff Spicoli!

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