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Some employers nod to medical marijuana while at work

Some employers nod to medical marijuana while at work

One out of five small employers would allow an employee with a doctor's prescription for medical marijuana to use the drug while at work, according to a new study.

The study conducted in May by Reno, Nevada-based workers comp insurance services provider EMPLOYERS found that 19% of small business owners would allow such use by employees with prescriptions, while 62% said they would not and another 17% said they were unsure whether they would allow employees to use the drug at work.

“We encourage all small businesses to maintain drug-free workplaces because employees who are under the influence of illicit substances, or misuse or abuse prescription drugs, can put themselves, other employees or customers at risk of injury or other harm,” said Dwight Robertson, the company's medical director. “The most important step employers can take is to have a clearly documented workplace safety policy that specifically addresses drug use in the workplace.”

The survey found that 42% of small businesses do not have a written policy prohibiting employees from possessing, using or being under the influence of marijuana at work, and 74% do not require their employees to take drug tests.

Eighty-one percent of the small business owners polled said they were unconcerned that their employees would come to work under the influence of marijuana now that it is becoming legal in more states – research by CNN indicates that marijuana for medicinal or recreational uses is now legal in 24 states and the District of Columbia.

Nearly one in 10 small business owners indicated that employees have shown up for work under the influence of a controlled substance, including marijuana, alcohol or narcotic painkillers.

The telephone survey completed interviews with 501 small businesses with fewer than 100 employees across the United States from May 14 through May 29.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance has highlighted medical marijuana as an emerging issue in workers compensation. State laws do not allow employees to use the drug in the workplace nor do they require employers to allow its use, according to NCCI research. However, some states allow employees who legally use the drug while they are off duty to face consequences including possible termination for arriving at work with marijuana in their systems while others have introduced legislation preventing termination, according to the research.

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