The new law amends Minnesota’s Consumable Products Act (CPA), which prohibits employers from disciplining or discharging employees (or refusing to hire applicants) who use lawful consumable products outside of work.
Effective Aug. 1, the term “lawful consumable products” will specifically include cannabis flower, cannabis products, lower-potency hemp edibles, and hemp-derived consumer products. The law goes even further to explicitly provide that these products are considered lawful consumable products under Minnesota law “regardless of whether federal or other state law considers cannabis use, possession, impairment, sale, or transfer to be unlawful.”
However, nothing in the newly amended CPA prohibits employers from taking action against employees who use, possess, sell, transfer, or are impaired while working, while on work premises, or while operating an employer’s vehicles, machines, or equipment. Similarly, employers may continue prohibiting the use of such products if failing to do so would violate another federal or state law or regulation or cause the employer to lose money or any licensing-related benefit under federal law or regulations.
The existing exceptions to the general prohibition on employer restrictions of lawful consumable products during nonworking hours outlined in the CPA will remain in place.
Updates to Minnesota Drug Testing Rules
Effective Aug. 1, the new law will make substantial changes to the Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act (DATWA), which already imposes significant restrictions on employer drug testing. The changes apply to cannabis flower, cannabis products, lower-potency hemp edibles, and hemp-derived consumer products.
Generally, employers may no longer require or request pre-employment cannabis testing or refuse to hire an applicant solely because the applicant tested positive for cannabis on a pre-employment test. Similarly, employers may no longer require routine physical examination cannabis testing for most positions, nor can they require cannabis testing on an arbitrary or capricious basis.
However, employers may continue pre-employment and routine physical examination cannabis testing for the following positions:
- Safety-sensitive positions (i.e., a job in which an impairment caused by drug, alcohol, or cannabis usage would threaten the health or safety of any person).
- Police officer or sheriff positions.
- Firefighter positions.
- Positions requiring face-to-face care, training, education, supervision, counseling, consultation or medical assistance to children, vulnerable adults, or patients who receive health care services from a provider for the treatment, examination, or emergency care of a medical, psychiatric, or mental condition.
- Positions requiring a commercial driver’s license or requiring an employee to operate a motor vehicle for which state or federal law requires drug or alcohol testing of a job applicant or an employee.
- Positions of employment funded by a federal grant.
- Any other positions for which federal law requires testing of a job applicant for cannabis.
For the above positions, employers can continue treating cannabis like other drugs for purposes of DATWA. Employers may continue random cannabis testing for safety-sensitive positions and professional athletes subject to a collective bargaining agreement that permits random testing.
Employers may also continue reasonable-suspicion cannabis testing, which includes post-accident testing, and treatment program cannabis testing for all employees.
When an employee uses, possesses, sells, transfers or is impaired by cannabis while working, an employer can discipline, discharge or take other adverse action against them only:
- If, as a result of consuming cannabis, the employee does not possess that clearness of intellect and control of self that the employee otherwise would have.
- If cannabis testing verifies the presence of cannabis following a confirmatory test.
- If the employer’s written work rules for cannabis apply to such conduct, and the policy complies with DATWA.
- If the employer is otherwise authorized or required to do so under state or federal law or regulations, or if a failure to do so would cause an employer to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law or regulations.
What this means for employers is that Minnesota law requires that you offer rehabilitation in lieu of termination for any employee who test positive for drugs, alcohol or cannabis, for the first time except in the following circumstances:
- If an employee exhibits impaired behavior in the workpkace and an employer properly documents reasonable suspicion, has a compliant drug testing policy acknowledged in writing by all employees and the employee tests positive for cannabis an employer may terminate:
- If the behavior posed a Safety risk to herself/himself, a co-worker or any third party in an accident or non-accident situation.
Need help understanding the implications of this change to Minnesota marijuana laws on your workforce? Our Minnesota HR and legal experts can help you understand the power you do have when recreational marijuna use impacts your workplace.