Panel discusses marijuana in the workplace ahead of new Illinois law

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MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) – As the Quad Cities area enters the new year, recreational marijuana becomes legal in Illinois.

Panel discusses marijuana in the workplace ahead of new Illinois law.

The new law is creating confusion and concern for local employers, so the QC Chamber of Commerce held a panel Thursday to instruct employers on how to handle the new law.

The panelist included Mike Halpin, Illinois State Representative for the 72nd District; Tyler Diers, Director of Legislative Relations, Illinois Chamber of Commerce; Selena Castle, PHR, HR Business Partner, Management Resource Association; Matthew Pappas, Partner, Pappas O’Connor, P.C.; and Gene Krismanits, Commercial Producer, Mel Foster Co. Insurance, Inc.

The panel discussed several different aspects of how the legalization of marijuana will affect employers, including drug testing, insurance coverage, and drug policies.

One of the big messages to employers at the panel came from Krismantis who said overall, it’s hard to tell how the new law will impact employers.

However, panelists had advice for employers.

Panelists tell employers their policies can be similar to alcohol policies in the workplace. Likewise, they say right now, employers do not have to change their practices right now. Krismantis told employers they can remain drug-free zones.

However, when it comes to drug testing, there is some disagreement on how it should be handled.

Castle told employers they have the option to take marijuana out of the panel for drug testing because issues could arise if the business continues to randomly test employees for drugs based on reasonable suspicion.

She and other panelists suggest employers and supervisors receive training on how to spot the signs or symptoms of marijuana use in the workplace.

For first responders and those in the transportation industry, panelists say they need to continue to follow federal law which still considers recreational marijuana to be illegal.

While many aspects of the new law remain complicated for employers, the panelists say recommendations on how to handle it will likely come down from the courts, Department of Labor, and other agencies.

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