Heather Talamante

Many are very excited to have this newfound freedom with marijuana, remember to be responsible and keep it out of the workplace


Heather Talamante is a Rio Rancho HR expert and will write a monthly column for The Observer on employment and work issues.

Marijuana is now legal for recreational use in New Mexico, and while many are collectively sounding off a sentiment of, “it’s about time,” some may not be aware of the boundaries between work and play.

Before you light up, let’s evaluate how recreational marijuana affects the workplace.

Medical marijuana has been legal in New Mexico since 2007. If you have been using marijuana medically, you may already be aware of the interplay between your medical usage and your job. If you’re not, now might be a great time to become familiarized with those policies. As recreational marijuana was legalized a week ago, both medical and recreational marijuana are still illegal at the federal level. This creates a delicate legal balance within the workplace.

Here’s why that is important. If you are working for a Drug-Free Federal Workplace or in a safety-sensitive position, medical marijuana usage is still not protected. The implications for medical use versus recreational use are quite different. How they are handled within your workplace will be adjusted accordingly. Many a new hire has blindly signed a handbook without truly retaining the information they acknowledged.

When it comes to recreational marijuana, the workplace shouldn’t need to monitor or restrict your actions outside of the workplace until you arrive and attempt to fulfill your job duties. This is similar to alcohol: responsible usage should not interfere with your job.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Getting a Job – Recreational marijuana users who fail a pre-employment drug screen can be declined for a position.
  • Being ‘High’ at Work – If you show up to your workplace and you are exhibiting signs of impairment, your employer can send you for a drug test which, if positive, can result in termination of your employment.
  • Workers Compensation – If you slip and fall at work, most employers will send you to an approved site to have your injury evaluated, which might also include a drug screen. Any amount of THC in your system can invalidate your claim.
  • Social Media – depending on your organization’s social media policy, it’s best to avoid posts with any employer branded material or clothing while you’re practicing your bong hit after hours. PSA – just take off that work shirt and maybe ensure your posts are private.

If you’re unfamiliar with the rules at your workplace, it’s a good idea to jump into the handbook and see what’s expected of you as an employee. Many are very excited to have this newfound freedom with marijuana, remember to be responsible and keep it out of the workplace.

If you want more information on New Mexico laws and regulations, you can access the Cannabis Control Division website here: https://ccd.rld.state.nm.us/