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Marijuana legalization in Illinois impacts drug testing in the work place

Local businesses are asking questions, following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois.

The new law raises concern for work place drug policies, as one business owner said it may be challenging to keep it out of the work place.

At Revelry in Quincy, there’s a strict no drugs in the work place policy right now. But now that marijuana will be legal next year in Illinois, business owners said they might have to make some adjustments.

At Revelry, the rules are simple.

“Our drug policy? Don’t do it,” Owner Rusty Williams said.

It’s been that way for years and Williams said he trusts his employees to follow it, as drug tests are too expensive.

“You don’t come into work drunk, you don’t come into work high,” Williams said.

On Tuesday, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana– something Williams said raises some concern.

He said that doesn’t change the policy that states workers will not use alcohol or marijuana while at the work place.

“I need your mind straight,” Williams said. “I don’t need it altered and that goes for anybody.”

He said when it comes to customers, he’ll treat it just like alcohol.

“If somebody comes in here and they’re high, it would be just like if they were drunk,” Williams said. “I’d be like, we need to talk about this and I’m probably not going to serve you because I don’t want to enhance your mood, your mind.”

But not all local businesses operate like the Revelry, which is why the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce is trying to help.

For businesses that want to keep drug testing, there are some new guidelines.

“If they’re going to discipline for marijuana being in the system, then they’ll also have to discipline for legal opioids and have to discipline for other things as well,” Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Latonya Brock said. “Although they can maintain a zero tolerance, they have to be very careful that they don’t act in a discriminatory way.”

For Williams, he said he’s just going to wait and see how it plays out.

“It’s going to be a matter of, we need to have patience with it because it is so new,” Williams said. “But, I think it does need to be regulated.”

Brock said they plan to host several workshops and forums for employers in the near future, so they have all the information they need to make decisions.

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, which means some employees must obey federally mandated drug tests.

This group of employees includes anyone who operates commercial vehicles, including train engineers, pilots and bus drivers.


Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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