The world looks a lot different than it did even a few years ago, in many ways. One of the most notable changes in America is the legality of weed and marijuana-based products. At the start of the decade, recreational marijuana was illegal everywhere. At the start of this new one, it’s legal in many states with many more to come.

Most see this as a positive change, however, there are some new situations we all must get equipped to. For example, what do you do as an employer if you have an employee who is high at work?

This is a new challenge that bosses around the country are facing or will have to face. What are the proper steps to take?

Read on and we’ll walk you through what you need to know.

Know Your Local Laws

Marijuana culture is changing, and the best thing to do when you first notice your employee is high is to double-check the laws in your area. Where does the law currently stand in your state in regards to marijuana products?

You may live in a state where medicinal marijuana is legal, or one where fully recreational weed has been given the a-okay. You also might live in a state where marijuana in almost any form is still strictly prohibited. It’s a confusing time in the country due to all these different treatments of the popular drug.

If you are in a state where marijuana is still illegal, it’s best to come down with a no-tolerance policy. This is especially true if you receive any type of federal funding for your work. Employees who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol while on the clock would be breaking the Drug-Free Workplace Act, and thus putting the funding of your company on the line.

Even if you don’t accept federal funding, its best to comply with the state and local laws surrounding marijuana usage in your area. Even if weed is recreational, you still might want to come down hard on an employee for other reasons.

Drawing A Line

It can be hard to find out how to handle drug use in the workplace. More often than not, an employee who is high while on the job likely isn’t bringing their drugs to work with them. They are using them prior to work and then arriving while already under the influence. 

This can make it a harder situation to feel like you can police, especially if recreational use is fully legal. However, there are a few reasons why you are still in-the-right for calling an employee out.

For one, their safety and the safety of other workers and clients might be at stake. It’s been proven that getting high does impact our motor skills and working processes. If an employee has to operate any kind of machinery or a device that could cause harm, being high could be a huge risk.

There’s also the matter of professionalism to keep in mind. You need your business to put forward it’s best possible foot with customers. At the end of the day, despite weed being legal, having a high employee behind the counter or on the floor might not look good to many people.

You need to draw a line on what you expect from people when they are on the clock at your place of employment. Having a no-tolerance policy in terms of inebriation is the best approach. You wouldn’t allow someone to come to work drunk, would you? Even if they were of legal drinking age.

You can say the same thing for someone who comes to work while high.

Approaching the Situation

Having to approach an employee who is high about the problem is not something that many people look forward to. However, having frank conversations is just one of the many responsibilities of being the boss.

It’s best to pull the individual into a private conversation. Ask them if they are inebriated and see if you can get the truth out of them. If they are, express in clear and concise language your expectations of them and your feelings towards inebriation while on the clock.

If you need to, you can send them home early on this day. With a clear conversation behind you, one can hope that they will never arrive at work in this state again. If they do, it could be grounds for termination. That’s your call.

Of course, if someone uses marijuana for medical reasons it’s important to hear out their side of the story. If you have a small business where employees don’t interact with customers and so simple and safe work, you might even decide to be more lenient. 

You need to craft a drug use policy for your business that fits your needs and where you stand on the matter. As long as this policy is tight and you take the time to explain it to your employees, you should have no long-term problems with employee usage.

In fact, bringing up this policy during the hiring process in the future might help you to never have to run into this kind of problem in the first place.

When An Employee is High at Work

If you have an employee who has shown up high at work, it can be hard to determine what to do. Changing drug laws and medical usage have made this a difficult topic to navigate, but the above information can help.

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By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.