Virginia: Hampton Roads Chamber helps educate employers, workers on cannabis industry

There are still many questions about the cannabis industry in Virginia and what’s actually allowed.

The Hampton Roads Chamber held a virtual event, Weed in the Workplace, on June 14 to help more than 30 attendees navigate the ever-changing legislation.

Vandeventer Black attorneys Anne Bibeau and Jonathan Gallo tag-teamed the presentation regarding the current status of cannabis law in the state and related matters that local businesses and employees need to know.

First, Gallo stressed that marijuana — although legal in Virginia and three-quarters of U.S. states for medical or recreational use — is still illegal under federal law. And under the state’s legalized recreational program since last July, it remains illegal to sell marijuana.

“You can only purchase them through licensed dispensaries with medical patients who actually have certifications and/or registrations,” Gallo said.

The law allows adults 21 years or older to legally possess not more than 1 ounce of marijuana without the intent to distribute, he said. It also allows home cultivation of up to four marijuana plants labeled for personal use.

While the use of marijuana is now legal, one of the big questions is where companies stand on drug-testing policies and workplace safety.

Bibeau said a lot of businesses do drug testing for a number of different types of drugs and ask if they should still test for marijuana. She said she does not see any reason to stop testing for it.

“I think it’s helpful to look at marijuana the same way you look at alcohol,” she said. “Yes, it’s legal, but you can’t show up at work under the influence, you can’t have it at work and you can’t use it at work.”

Many businesses commonly do drug tests for hiring, after an accident, randomly and for reasonable suspicion or cause. With some large businesses stepping back from marijuana testing, Bibeau said it’s problematic.

“It encourages marijuana use, which may not be good for your business, and it can lead to workplace accidents, which we should all be concerned about,” she said.

But Bibeau said there is an employment protection in Virginia that employers need to be aware of if they are doing drug testing.

Read more at the Virginian Pilot


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