Marijuana Regulations

Impacts of Marijuana Legalization on Safety Sensitive Workplaces

In recent years, a growing number of states have decriminalized or entirely legalized the sale, production, and use of marijuana for recreational and/or medicinal purposes. According to federal law, which overrides state law under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2), marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug and is therefore illegal to use, produce, and sell throughout the United States. Federal and State law are in conflict, causing confusion for industry on how to approach marijuana in the workplace, particularly in safety-sensitive jobs.

NACD has created this webpage to provide information and resources to help members address these challenges and navigate changes. NACD will add more resources to this page as they become available.

Marijuana and Workplace Safety:

State laws vary on employer protections regarding marijuana use in the workplace; however, courts have mostly sided with employers, even when an employee has a medical marijuana card in states where marijuana is decriminalized and/or legalized. It is important to note that these employee vs. employer actions have resulted in varying determinations, shaping workplace policies and law enforcement in states where marijuana has been legalized for medical and recreational purposes.


Marijuana and Transportation Employees:

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation (49 CFR Part 40), the DOT’s drug testing program, which tests safety-sensitive transportation employees, the use of Schedule 1 drugs (which includes marijuana) for any reason is strictly prohibited. Example: If a physician recommended that an employee use medical marijuana in a state where medical marijuana has been decriminalized and legalized, it is still prohibited for that safety-sensitive employee to use marijuana in said state.


Marijuana Policy by State:

It is important for employers to review their state statutes and relevant case law when determining company policy regarding usage of marijuana (medical and recreational use). At the federal level, marijuana remains an illegal substance. However, it is prudent to also review any state legislation that impacts the legal status of marijuana. To learn more, review the Marijuana Policy by State Table.



FDA Regulation of Dietary Supplement & Conventional Food Products Containing Cannabis and Cannabis Derived Compounds – Food and Drug Administration

State Marijuana “Legalization” and Federal Drug Law: A Brief Overview for Congress – Congressional Research Service (May 2020)