Marijuana in the Workplace: Your Rights in New Jersey
New Rights for Cannabis Users—and How They Affect You
In February of 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an act into law that legalized recreational use of marijuana for everyone aged 21 and over.
Medical marijuana has been legal in New Jersey for over a decade, with various restrictions. But the new law not only brings New Jersey more in line with public sentiment with regard to recreational marijuana—it also comes with strengthened workplace protections for those who use marijuana, both recreationally and medically.
Here are the details.
Your Employer Can’t Fire You if a Drug Test Reveals You’ve Used Cannabis
The name of the new 2021 law is the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, or NJCREAMMA.
According to NJCREAMMA, employers in New Jersey are now barred from discriminating against an employee or job applicant solely for their use (or non-use) of marijuana.
It is also now unlawful for employers in the state of New Jersey to take any punitive action against employees solely because they were found in a drug test to have used cannabis.
Notice that word, solely, however. This gives employers a loophole for taking adverse action under the law.
Here’s how it works. If you were found to have cannabis in your system in a drug test, you can’t be fired just because of that. But your employer could terminate you for another, related reason.
For instance, if your employer believes you were acting impaired at work—and the positive drug test confirms you used cannabis—they could fire you lawfully.
However, to fire you for cannabis test results, your employer would have to determine you were doing something against the rules—such as using cannabis on the worksite—in order to have a legal basis to do so.
You Can’t Be Discriminated Against for Past Marijuana-Related Offenses
The new law also prohibits employers from taking past cannabis-related offenses into account when making decisions about your employment. That includes any arrest, charge, adjudication, or conviction.
Employers who violate this part of the law in New Jersey will have to pay hefty fees—from $1,000 for the first violation up to $10,000 for subsequent violations.
Drug-Free Workplaces Are Still Allowed
Under the new law, employers are allowed to keep their workplaces drug- and alcohol-free. That means employers can prohibit employees from having or using cannabis in the workplace.
They can’t fire you for using marijuana outside of work, but they can punish you for showing up at work under the influence or using marijuana at work, if they have a policy against it.
Exceptions for Federal Contractors
Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level—and federal contractors must still abide by those laws while working in New Jersey.
That means if you’re a federal contractor, your employer may be able to fire you if your drug test results say you’ve been using cannabis—even if there is no evidence you used it at work.
What To Do if Your Employer Took Punitive Action Against You Because of Marijuana Use
If you believe your employer has discriminated against you for using marijuana, you may have legal recourse.
Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, confidential consultation today.
The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.