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Marijuana law changes workplace policies

SPRINGFIELD (WSIL) — Illinois employers who conduct random drug testing for marijuana will soon have to stop those tests. That’s because of a bill legalizing cannabis in January of 2020. 

David Hays, president and general manager of Kokopelli Golf Club, says he hasn’t had any drug issues with his current staff. 

"I feel like I got a good crew and I just really had no issues up to this point, but you know it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when,’" says Hays 

In May 2019, the Illinois House and Senate approved the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which will go into law in January. Residents who are 21 years old can use small amounts of marijuana freely. But the law also brings changes to company policies. 

Attorney Shari Rhode says an employer can not randomly test employees, even if the company had a zero-tolerance drug policy. 

"They can do it, but they can’t do it without legal consequences because the law says you can not randomly test if you don’t have a good faith base," explains Rhode.

Rhode says employers need to have marijuana protocols in place, by documenting the situation and giving the employee a chance to respond to the situation. 

Employers like Hays say even though the law doesn’t go into effect until January, he’s working now to learn new information.

"I think it brought up probably as many questions going forward," says Hayes. 

If employers do random drug testing for marijuana after the new law is in place, employees can sue for damages.

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