What Do Employers Need to Know About CREAMMA and Employment Regulations?
New Jersey voters voted for legalized recreational marijuana. Then, on February 22, 2021, Governor Murphy issued the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (CREAMMA). CREAMMA outlines the rules and regulations concerning legalized recreational cannabis in New Jersey.
While federal law still considers marijuana a Schedule 1 drug, New Jersey will allow people to legally smoke and carry marijuana as long as they follow the specified regulations outlined in CREAMMA.
The law also regulates employers’ responsibilities and employees’ rights regarding marijuana use as it relates to the workplace. The regulations do not take effect right away. Instead, employers have either 180 days from February 22, 2021 (the date Governor Murphy signed the bill into law) or 45 days from the time the 5-person marijuana commission (as required under the new law) convenes. Therefore, employers will have a few months until the new laws become effective, giving them plenty of time to prepare.
Read on to learn about the employer provisions for which you must prepare.
1. Criminal Histories
Employers may still ask about criminal histories and run criminal background checks on employees after the first interview, as per New Jersey’s ban the box laws. However, employers can no longer use marijuana-related criminal histories to make any employment decisions. If a criminal history related to marijuana use becomes employer knowledge, the employer must disregard the charge.
2. Drug Screenings
Drug screening issues are two-fold under the new law. First, the employer cannot make negative employment decisions because an employee tests positive for THC. Employers may still conduct drug screenings for other drugs. However, employers must disregard any positive marijuana results.
However, employers do not always need to ignore the positive marijuana results. The second caveat to this provision relates to using marijuana while on the job. Employers are still permitted to enforce a drug-free workplace. Employees cannot be high at work. They may not use marijuana on employer property or on the job in any capacity.
However, suppose an employer suspects an employee of using marijuana during working hours or being under the influence while working. In that case, they must confirm the suspicion with both a drug screening and a physical evaluation by a certified professional.
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission (as stipulated by CREAMMA) must issue the certification for the person conducting the physical evaluation. The good news is that employers can obtain the certification or appoint an employee to obtain the certification. However, some employers may choose to hire a consultant on an as-needed basis.
3. Federal Contractors in New Jersey
Since marijuana is not legal on the federal level, companies conducting work under federal contracts and federal employers in New Jersey may be exempt from these laws. These employers must adhere to federal laws and regulations, which prohibit marijuana drug use.
New Jersey has protected medical marijuana use has for several years. The new laws enhance these protections. They do not inhibit any rights already provided to medical marijuana users in New Jersey.
Furthermore, the new laws’ waiting period to take effect does not impact the current laws providing rights to medical marijuana users. These rights are still applicable as New Jersey forms the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
CREAMMA changes the way New Jersey approaches recreational marijuana use. It is no surprise it will impact employers. To learn more about adjusting your policies and procedures to accommodate the new laws, contact the HR experts at Workplace HCM. Call 856-334-9711 to schedule your appointment to learn more about your employer’s rights under the law.