In January, Vermont became the ninth state to OK recreational marijuana for adults, reflecting a steadily growing trend. And in more than half of all states, medical marijuana is legal.
But federal law considers marijuana an illegal drug, so weed is off limits for those in safety-sensitive jobs under Coast Guard and Department of Transportation (DOT) watch. Still, state initiatives are raising some concerns for maritime operators and employees.
“The Coast Guard has been abundantly clear that those federal regulations pre-empt any state laws,” said Amanda Gamblin, an employment law attorney with Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt in the Pacific Northwest, an area in the thick of the recreational marijuana world.
So the consequences are the same for someone who tests positive for marijuana as for alcohol — they face administrative proceedings and may be terminated. Applicants who use medical marijuana are denied credentials. Gamblin, whose focus includes maritime issues, isn’t hearing from any maritime clients worried that they might have to continue to employ someone who tested positive. “What they’re worried about is being able to continue to find employees,”