Hawaii Becomes the 26th State to Decriminalize Marijuana
On Tuesday July 9, 2019 the State of Hawaii, under the new legislation HI measure 1383 became law without the signature of Hawaii Governor David Ige. This new bill will take effect on January 11, 2020 which removes any jail time associated with marijuana possession of 3 grams or less and now individuals will face a fine of $130.
Additional penalties outlined in this bill include Possession of more than 3 grams, but less than 1 ounce of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days imprisonment and/or a fine of $1,000.
Possession of 1 ounce or more but less than 1 pound is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1-year imprisonment and/or a $2,000 fine. Possession of 1 pound or more, of marijuana is a Class C felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Governor David Ige declined to sign the legislation but also didn’t veto it by Tuesday’s deadline.
States with Marijuana Decriminalization
The following states have passed laws either fully or partially decriminalizing certain marijuana possession offenses. Usually, decriminalization means no arrest, prison time, or criminal record for the first-time possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal consumption.
In most decriminalized states, these offenses are treated like a minor traffic violation.
Additionally, over 50 localities in about a dozen states have enacted municipal laws or resolutions either fully or partially decriminalizing minor cannabis possession offenses.
* Voters in each of these jurisdictions have subsequently approved legislation legalizing the adult use and personal cultivation of cannabis.
** These states have partially decriminalized certain marijuana possession offenses. Although the law still classifies marijuana possession offenses as criminal, the offenses do not carry any threat of jail time.
*** North Dakota’s law takes effect on August 1, 2019.
**** Hawaii’s law takes effect on January 11, 2020.
How does marijuana legalization effect employers?
Employers regulated by Federal law (DOT, HHS, Federal Drug Free Workplace Act) are still required to test for the Standard Federal 5 panel drug test which currently screens for the following drugs.
- Marijuana (THC)
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
Under ‘Opioids’, previously ‘Opiates’, DOT testing will continue to include confirmatory testing, when appropriate, for Codeine, Morphine, and 6-AM (heroin).
HHS also added initial and confirmatory testing for the semi-synthetic opioids Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxycodone, and Oxymorphone to this Opioids group. Some brand names for the semi-synthetic opioids include OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, Exalgo®.
In most states employers still reserve the right to be a drug free workplace regardless of specific State or local municipalities laws regarding recreational and/or medical marijuana. We recommend that each employer review their drug free workplace policy and any specific State, local or case law that may impact testing for a marijuana prior to implementing a drug free workplace policy/program.
What Employers Can Do?
- Create a culture of safety for your employees, customers and community
- Research any State, local or case law that may impact your drug free workplace policy to ensure compliance
- Update your workplace drug & alcohol policy, making sure it is clear on violations and consequences.
- Your policy should include all forms of drug & alcohol testing that you intend to use.
- Employees company-wide must be made aware of the workplace drug & alcohol policies and procedures. This is an on-going conversation that should occur on a regular basis.
- Enforce your policies consistently and fairly.