Bill that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana introduced in the New Jersey Senate.

Both during the campaign and after being elected, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy made clear that he will support legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in New Jersey. On Tuesday, January 9, 2018, that campaign promise took one step closer to becoming a reality, when New Jersey Senator Nicholas Scutari introduced Senate Bill No. 830.

What's New?

S830 permits individuals 21 years old and older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused products in solids, 72 ounces in liquid form, 7 grams of concentrate, and up to six immature plants. The bill further establishes the Division of Marijuana Enforcement, which is charged with regulating the industry.

In the Workplace: The bill explicitly states that employers do not have to accommodate the use or possession of marijuana in the workplace. In addition, employers may have policies that prohibit marijuana use or intoxication during working hours.

Outside the Workplace: The bill makes it unlawful for an employer to take any adverse employment action against an employee based on an individual’s use of marijuana, unless the employer has a rational basis for doing so. Therefore, the bill would affect an employer’s ability to discipline or discharge an employee due to the individual’s off-duty use of marijuana.

What Actions do Employers Need to Take?

New Jersey employers must prepare for the legalization of recreational marijuana. Employers should review their handbooks, job descriptions, and policies to establish how they will respond to employees' use of marijuana and to ensure conformity with the potential changes in the law.

Employers further must be cognizant of the fact that marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration and illegal under federal law. Therefore, employers should consult with counsel on how the interplay between federal and state law impacts their business.