New Jersey’s Adult-Use Marijuana Law and Your Rights in the Workplace
In February 2021, the Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, signed the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization (NJCREAMM) Act. In August of the same year, the employment section of the NJCREAMM Act went into effect. The NJCREAMM Act makes it legal for adults age 21 and older to engage in the recreational use of marijuana and offers workplace protections for those individuals who use marijuana recreationally. Generally, recreational marijuana users are now a protected class among employees and job seekers. Read on to learn more about the NJCREAMM Act.
Provisions Under the NJCREAMM Act
According to the NJCREAMM Act, New Jersey employers are prohibited from discriminating against any employee or job seeker because they do or do not vape, smoke, aerosolize, or otherwise use cannabis items. According to the Act, an employee or job seeker shall not be subject to any adverse action by an employer solely because of the presence of cannabis in their bodily fluid.
Under the NJCREAMM Act, employers are allowed to keep their workplaces drug-free and are not required to accommodate the use, possession, etc., of marijuana in the workplace.
So, what does the term “solely” mean here? The term “solely” is used to mean that if your employer finds cannabis in your system in a drug test, they cannot, for instance, fire you just because of that positive test. Nevertheless, your employer has the right to act because of another related reason. For example, your employer can act if you come to work impaired and a drug test confirms that you used marijuana.
Further, according to the NJCREAMM Act, employers cannot;
- Refuse to hire an individual because the individual uses or does not use cannabis.
- Require a worker to undergo a drug test unless; there is reasonable suspicion of marijuana use while engaged in work responsibilities; or there are observable signs of intoxication that are related to marijuana use; or there is a work-related incident that is subject to investigation.
- Take past cannabis-related offenses into account when making decisions about an individual’s employment.
As already hinted, employers are allowed to use the results of drug tests when determining appropriate employment action, including demotion and dismissal. However, while the NJCREAMM Act preserves an employer’s right to conduct drug testing of its workers, the Act also places an obligation on employers to ensure that employees are evaluated by a Certified Workplace Impairment Recognition Expert (WIRE). This is an individual qualified to determine whether an employee is impaired and, if an employee is impaired, the level of impairment while engaging in job responsibilities.
It is crucial for employees and job applicants to note that they have legal options if they suffer an adverse employment action for testing positive for marijuana. When a worker or job applicant suffers an adverse employment action for testing positive for marijuana, they should contact an attorney to learn about their legal options.
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If you believe you have been discriminated against in the workplace because of marijuana use, contact the Trabosh Law Firm at to learn about your legal options.