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Illinois became the 11th state in the country to legalize recreational marijuana Jan. 1.

Since then, customers have spent more than $39 million on legal weed during the first month of sales, generating more than $10 million in tax revenue.

On Feb. 20, St. Louis attorney Thomas Berry visited the Granite City Housing Authority to discuss the risks of employees using marijuana in a 60-minute seminar, Cannabis in the Work Place. The event included breakfast and was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Southwestern Madison County.

“It has a big impact in all of us,” Berry said.

Last summer, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which allows Illinois adults to possess marijuana. Only 5 of the law’s 611 pages address using marijuana at work.

“The first part of the bill is Section 10-50 Act, which starts off with a broad recognition that employers can still maintain zero tolerance drug-testing workplace policies if you have them already in place,” Berry said. “You can maintain existing drug-testing policies, so folks don’t have a right to privacy to avoid a drug testing, if you got a policy that requires it.”

Berry said under the act, an employer may prohibit an employee from being under the influence of or using marijuana in the workplace, while performing duties or while on call.

“If they’re on call and if you give them at least 24 hours notice that they’re going to be on call, that’s still considered work time under the act,” he said.

Berry said there are also risks of employees using marijuana while working remotely.

“Ordinary, they can consume marijuana at home on their own time, but if that’s their work station, their home is no longer, in my view, an area where they can use or consume,” he said. “If they’re still on duty and they work from home, that’s no different than working in your office in terms of the workplace within meeting with your policies.”

The attorney also discussed employers implementing drug-testing policies.

“The legislature did clarify in the cannabis act that reasonable drug tests can include pre-employment drug testing and the adverse action can include rescinding a job offer if they test positive in pre-employment drug tests, provided that this is a consistent test for everybody,” Berry said. “They can’t pick and choose who has to do pre-employment drug tests, but it’s required for everybody that if you come back positive, you can rescind a job offer.”

Since marijuana became legal in Illinois, sales have drawn large groups of people to dispensaries, including one in Collinsville.

“I’m always amazed that every time I drive by there, two things strike up at me,” Berry said. “One, a lot of people standing outside in the cold waiting to buy the stuff, and two, all of the businesses have signs that say don’t park here unless you do business with us.”

Berry said with the massive sales in Illinois after the first month, Missouri is considering recreational marijuana.

“It’s about the money,” he said. “The challenge is about the money and that’s where they focused on their efforts.”

States with legalized marijuana

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Washington

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