Magic Mushrooms and Marijuana: Just Say… "OK?"
In a move that would have scandalized Nancy Reagan, voters in at least six states and Washington DC decided on Election Day to approve various drug-related initiatives. In light of these changes, employers should review their handbooks, policies, and procedures to determine if the new laws might affect them. To reduce the risk of a charge, claim, or lawsuit alleging disability discrimination, employers should also proceed with caution when disciplining or terminating employees who use marijuana and similar substances for medical reasons.
Putting the fun back in fungi, Oregon voters approved a new measure that allows the use of magic mushrooms (or more specifically psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms) for certain medical uses, such as treatment for anxiety and depression. Another successful Oregon measure “decriminalizes” the possession of small amounts of hard drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines. Of course, psilocybin, heroine, cocaine, and methamphetamines remain illegal under federal law.
Following Oregon’s lead, voters in Washington DC adopted Initiative 81, which “decriminalizes” the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of “entheogenic plants and fungi.” However, the initiative does not allow for the commercial sale of such plants or fungi.
And while Americans remain divided on some issues, marijuana may no longer be one of them. Denizens of both red and blue states voted to permit use of the drug, which remains illegal under federal law. In Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, new legislation allows the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, and Mississippi and South Dakota passed initiatives allowing the use of medical marijuana.
To be safe, employers—especially those with physical operations and/or “work-from-home” employees in multiple states—should revisit their employee policies and procedures to ensure compliance with applicable local, state, and federal laws.