Can Using Cannabis at Home Bring You Trouble at Work?

Initiative 502 legalized marijuana use for adults in Washington state, but there are still restrictions to be aware of, especially work-related regulations. Consuming in the privacy of your home is legal, but using cannabis at work is another story.

Quick Rundown of Consumption Restrictions in Washington:

Cannabis at Work: What You Need to Know

Under Washington law, it’s illegal to open or consume cannabis in view of the general public, which includes your place of employment. Employers have the right to decide if you can consume on the job. For example, there may be allowances made for medical use. This is at the employer's discretion.

Washington public employers have a strong legal basis to discipline or discharge employees who test positive for cannabis if consistent with respective contracts, policies, and past disciplinary action. That said, confidentiality laws limit employer access to employee medical information. And employers can’t base employment decisions on an employee’s disability.

Litigation will likely determine whether exceeding the legal limit (as determined by a drug test) will put your job at risk. Frankly, employers who police legal off-duty consumption are asking to be sued. Unions may also push back against employer efforts to regulate private use.

cannabis at work man smoking

Consumption at Home

Unlike using cannabis at work, you can generally assume it’s safe to consume at home unless you live on federal property (like a military base). However, if you’re smoking on private property and visible from a public area, you are still considered in view of the public.

Be aware of the limits allowed so you can pace yourself. It’s illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis if you have more than five nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. Research has shown that active metabolite levels fall to two nanograms within four to six hours of use, so make sure enough time has passed before you drive. It’s recommended that you wait even longer than five hours after consuming edibles because they can remain in your system for longer. If you’re not sure if you’re impaired, don’t drive.  

Be warned, regulations in this young industry are constantly changing but laws around driver impairment will likely always be strict, as with alcohol, so know your limit.

cannabis at work man rolling joint

A Brave New World

Bottom line, this is new territory for many employers and employees and adjustments to work regulations will continue to be made. Review your employer’s human resource policies regarding drug use and testing carefully. And, if you have questions or believe that your employer’s policies may violate the law, contact a lawyer with experience in employment law in your area.

Ultimately, it's important to use common sense with cannabis—just like with alcohol. Just like it's not OK to show up drunk for work, it's not OK to show up high. Does that mean you can't indulge in your own time? No, just do so wisely.

Looking for some strains to help you kick back off the clock? Check out our online dispensary menu.