A frequent question we hear from clients is: How will evolving marijuana laws impact the workplace in 2021?

Although marijuana possession and use violate federal law, many states have passed laws legalizing marijuana. Restrictions vary widely by state; some states only allow medical marijuana, while others have legalized recreational marijuana. State laws may do one of the following:

  • Legalize medical marijuana, meaning an individual may defend against criminal charges if he or she can prove a medical need for marijuana under state law.
  • Legalize the possession and use of recreational or medical marijuana.
  • Decriminalize marijuana, meaning penalties for possession and use of marijuana may be reduced or eliminated under certain conditions.

Indiana has legalized the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil but not the possession or use of medical or recreational marijuana. However, two of Indiana’s neighboring states, Michigan and Illinois, have legalized both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana, and many northern Indiana employers employ workers who live in Illinois and Michigan.


How do these changes affect workplace policies?

State laws that legalize medical or recreational marijuana do not always affect employers’ rights to maintain and enforce zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies. Also, even if an employer is located in a state that has legalized medical or recreational marijuana, the employer generally may still prohibit employees from using marijuana at work and reporting to work under the influence of marijuana.

Companies located in states where marijuana is legal, or who employ individuals who live in these states, consider amending existing drug policies to clarify their position on marijuana. Employers should also review their drug policies in conjunction with state regulations to ensure that they are not violating any nondiscrimination laws. Some states prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who test positive for medical marijuana, provided that the employee is not impaired at work.

Questions about reviewing your policies to reflect new and existing marijuana legislation? Contact John Kuehn at SouthBank Legal.

Questions about protecting your business with the right insurance products? Contact Scott Johnson at Healy Group.


About the Authors:

John Kuehna partner at SouthBank Legal, has years of experience advising employers and representing clients in all phases of business litigation.






Scott Johnson is the self-proclaimed Director of Purpose and Passion, and a mentor, leader, and head cheerleader for Healy Insurance division. In his professional life, Scott embraces the Healy Spirit, helping others and giving value first. He is also the author of Insurance Caffeine, an E-magazine featuring commercial and personal insurance-related topics.