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Marijuana use continues to be a hot topic of discussion among business leaders in Whatcom County. According to a 2017 survey, 14 percent of adults in Washington state are current users of marijuana, and those numbers are only going up.

With rates like that, many companies are struggling to fill their rosters with employees who don’t smoke weed at least on occasion — especially those companies hiring younger workers. The rate of marijuana use among adults in particular in Washington state aged 18-34 is well over 18 percent, and among 18-25-year-olds, the number inches toward 25 percent.

Recently, Bostec was contacted by a company curious about the relationship between government contracts and weed in the workplace. We thought this would be a great topic for our Ask Bostec column that shares business scenarios that can serve as useful examples for other companies in similar situations.

Here’s the scenario:

This company holds a contract with the federal government, and because of that, they’re required to abide by federal laws regarding drug use. As you know, recreational marijuana use is legal in Washington state but is not legal at the federal level. This company wanted to know how that affects their drug policy, and what they should do next.

What is Bostec’s advice?

Organizations that receive any federal grant money or that hold federal contracts worth more than $100,000 are required to abide by the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. Among other things, the Drug Free Workplace Act requires the existence of a drug-free workplace policy. That policy must apprise workers that it is unlawful to possess or use controlled substances, which, since this is a federal (not state) law, includes marijuana.

Bostec’s advice is that it’s advisable for any company that holds — or that wants to hold — contracts with the federal government to adopt a drug-free workplace policy that includes marijuana.

Fear of running afoul of the Drug-Free Workplace Act isn’t the only reason to consider establishing a drug-free workplace, however. For example, a drug-free workplace program can keep your team members (and customers) safe while also boosting morale around the office.

Ask Bostec: Should I care whether my employees
smoke weed on the weekends?

Bostec has years of experience helping companies just like yours — from small mom-and-pop stores to large organizations with thousands of team members — throughout the Pacific Northwest establish policies that ban the use of drugs and alcohol in the workplace. Some of them are regulated by the Department of Transportation and have special requirements. Others are unregulated but simply want to make positive changes for their team members and customers.

If you would like to begin a conversation about workplace drug policies, just give us a call or stop by our Lynden office.

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