Addressing Substance Use in Your Workplace

One important area where we can promote prevention, education, treatment and long-term recovery is in our workplaces. What would happen if an employee in your organization was thought to be under the influence of marijuana, alcohol or some other drug? Would your supervisor know what to do? Would the employee have a good understanding of your organization’s substance use policy? As recent surveys of adults show a rising use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs, employers must address this reality. That challenge has been made even more difficult now that adult use of marijuana is legal in New Jersey. Employees are still required to come to work unimpaired and fit for duty. However, the possibility of an employee, who may be experimenting with marijuana and not realizing how potent this drug is and that its effects can last for hours, creates a challenge for every employer in New Jersey, even if the company has only a few employees.

As we continue to deal with the opioid crisis, with nearly 3,000 overdose deaths in New Jersey in 2023, and as stress levels, anxiety and other pandemic-related mental health problems have not gone away, employers can play a pivotal role in addressing these issues for their employees, as well as family members of those employees. Furthermore, as New Jersey navigates the complexities of legal marijuana and evolving drug testing technologies, it is crucial for employers to stay ahead of the curve. Taking a proactive approach to this issue not only serves your employees, it will result in a healthier and more productive workforce and, thereby, improve your business.

I encourage all employers of large, mid-sized and small businesses and not-for-profit agencies, as well as their managers and supervisors to register for PDFNJ’s upcoming drug-free workplace webinar, “A Legal Update,” at 11 a.m. Tuesday, February 6, 2024. This webinar serves as a platform for employers to gain insights and guidance about adapting their workplace policies. The presenters on the webinar are Nancy Delogu, an attorney at Littler Mendelson, P.C., and a national expert on substance use in the workplace, and Lauren J. Marcus, who represents and advises New Jersey employers on employment law. The moderator for the webinar is WRNJ’s Morning Program and B•Inspired Podcast Host Bert Baron. The webinar will explore the impact of marijuana use in the workplace, current national trends and laws, including use of oral fluids for drug testing, an emerging issue for employers who need to comply with Department of Transportation guidelines. Please share this link with your colleagues and business associates.

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