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How the Biden Administration and Marijuana Legalization Will Affect Hourly Workforces in 2021

February 10, 2021 - minute read

With the Biden-Harris Administration officially in office, employers have already witnessed a deluge of legislative motions through Congress—many of which cover issues that affect labor laws. One area of interest to many employers is the legalization of marijuana, expansions on medical-use, and how both would affect labor operations in the coming years.

What can employers expect on the federal level? How about for state level compliance? Is there some way you can prepare your policies and employees ahead of time? Let’s talk through some of 2021’s legalization-related predictions and how you can protect your business for what happens next.

Cannabis Under the Biden Administration

There are a lot of pressing issues facing lawmakers this year, especially in terms of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, President Biden and Vice President Harris have expressly stated that they support decriminalization. In fact, their administration has pledged to decriminalize the use of marijuana, as it is still a schedule 1 drug on the federal level, and automatically expunge marijuana-based convictions and incarcerations from use. This process has already started with the House passing the MORE Act.

This marks a significant change from previous administrations and suggests there will be substantial progress on this issue over the next four years. For many employers, however, it also means no longer being able to rely on federal laws to forgo state-level cannabis compliance.

State Laws Will Take Precedence

State laws are even more likely to change. According to SHRM, cannabis legalization on a state level is more likely to occur than federal changes and happen at a faster rate this year. In the last election, 5 more states approved marijuana laws. From legalization of medical cannabis to fully expanded recreational laws, more states are shifting their established regulations to uphold reasonable use.

For this reason, as more states legalize and federal changes become increasingly likely, multi-state employers will need to carefully re-evaluate their workplace policies.

Trends Employers Can Expect in 2021

When it comes to preparing your hourly workforce operations for new marijuana legislation, one thing remains clear: you will have to re-visit this subject continually. You will be expected to re-adjust employee expectations, established compliance measures, and even your handbook policies as legal obligations become clearer over time.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you safeguard your operation during legislative changes in 2021:

  • There will remain less protections for applicants and employees on the state level where workforce law is concerned. Moreover, no states will require employers to tolerate on-the-job cannabis use or intoxication.
  • Courts will continue to protect the rights of medical users from negative employment action and prejudice in the workplace. Handling of cannabis-related incidents within your work environments should reflect similar accommodation and flexibility to avoid discrimination claims.
  • Businesses will need to take steps to address drug diversion and substance abuse. With the pandemic causing an influx of drug and alcohol use by employees, and legislative changes allowing wider access to cannabis, you will responsible for helping prevent on-the-job use and related safety risks.
  • More court cases and legal interpretations will spark even more changes to federal and state laws. Keep an eye on individual cases to learn what may be coming next!

HR Consulting for the Hourly Workforce

When it comes to navigating turbulent compliance waters, it helps to have a team of HR experts on your side. With EPAY’s HR Consulting Services, marijuana-related compliance is a whole lot easier to navigate. Whether it be a phone call clarifying a new federal policy, a long-term project reworking your employee handbook, or even creating an effective training course for substance-related protocols—our Learning Management System and certified HR specialists have your back.

We do more than just offer award-winning HR management software. We support our clients with regular hourly workforce downloads, blogs, and monthly webinars, as well. Check out “Legalized Marijuana and HR: The Law, Your Handbook, and Everything In Between” for more information on cannabis-related workforce management and complying with state and federal laws.

Want to learn more about EPAY Systems? Request a demo today!

Filed Under: Workforce Management Cannabis