How Will Legalizing Marijuana Affect the Workplace?

With New Jersey State Governor Phil Murphy behind the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey, it looks like New Jersey takes one step closer each day to join the ranks of Colorado, California, Oregon, Maine, and all the other states who permit marijuana for recreational use; New Jersey will almost certainly get this bill passed in 2019.

“Today’s job market is being driven by the best candidates out there! The war for strong talent is what the best employers are looking for. If you’re a driving your career in the right direction, then you are excited to prove that you can pass all the compliance hoops that you need to go through in order to have an offer extended. Don’t let the legalization of marijuana throw off your awesome career trajectory!” says Sharon Tsao, CMO, Contemporary Staffing Solutions.

What does this mean?

Marijuana legalization in the United States is only expected to grow, especially since it has been shown to boost a state’s economy.

This will affect current Human Resource practices in regards to hiring and maintaining employment.

State vs. Federal

If a state decides to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, it is likely that many companies within that state will remove the marijuana test for pre-employment drug-screens. This will greatly increase the number of eligible candidates for the company, which can work out in the company’s favor.

However, since marijuana is not legal at a federal level, people who are federal employees or work at companies that receive federal funding will still not be allowed to take advantage of recreational marijuana, as they will still be drug tested.


While the pre-employment marijuana test being discarded in legal states might cause some to rejoice, it’s not that simple. Just as HR policies dictate that alcohol may not be consumed at work, so too will it apply to marijuana—meaning, of course, employees can’t just show up to work under the influence (though people with medical marijuana cards may get a pass, depending on their condition and what the employer is willing to do).

Note: While an employee may be drug-tested for being suspected of being under the influence at work, there is a gray area on how to determine this as marijuana can stay in a person’s system for up to 30 days.

Do you have compliance in order? Do you need help with the hiring and on-boarding process?  Reach out to Contemporary Staffing Solutions or visit us at