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Missouri chamber offers guidance on workplace marijuana policies

by Cameron Gerber | January 8, 2023 at 4:02 a.m.

Missouri businesses are preparing to face a new legal landscape as the state's recreational marijuana law nears full implementation.

Possessing up to three ounces of marijuana has been legal in Missouri since December, a month after voters passed Amendment 3 legalizing adult use for recreational purposes.

Legal recreational sales are expected to begin next month as the state begins approving applications, many of which have been submitted by existing medicinal dispensaries. As the newly legal industry prepares to get off the ground, many businesses are hazy on how they might regulate its use in and around the workplace, if they can at all.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry released a preliminary explainer last month detailing the biggest changes employers would see with the new regulations, noting businesses would still be able to dictate rules for their employees.

"The most important takeaway for business owners as we consider the implications of Amendment 3: employers may still maintain a drug-free workplace, which includes prohibiting employees from working while under the influence of marijuana," the release read.

The ballot measure's language states it does not allow for the use of marijuana or related products in the workplace, including sections that allow employers to discipline or discharge employees or refuse to hire applicants who work under the influence.

There's also the option for a zero-tolerance policy for those who test positive for marijuana use.

Those regulations do not extend to medical marijuana card holders, however. While an employee of any status can be terminated for using marijuana on the job, the amendment prohibited discrimination against cardholders, they can take action against them if marijuana use impacts their performance at work.

Workplaces are still subject to federal drug testing requirements, according to the chamber.

Heidi Sutherland, director of legislative affairs for the chamber, said there had been plenty of questions from members over Amendment 3. While the chamber did not take a position on the amendment, they're working with businesses to navigate these new waters.

"We had chamber members who were already reaching out to our office. Wondering how it was going to affect them, what the new law was going to mean for their workplace policies, their drug policies, all of that. So we are offering several different resources to our members," she said. "You've got some businesses who might decide to keep their drug-free workplace policies, but I know other businesses might just decide that they want to stop testing for marijuana altogether because of the limitations that we have with the current marijuana tests."

Sutherland noted workplaces dealing with machinery and other safety-sensitive positions would likely retain their policies, while the limitations of marijuana tests might prompt others to drop them altogether. Tests can sometimes show positive results for people who have used marijuana products within the past month, proving an unwieldy tool with unreliable results.

Many will rely more on performance-based metrics to determine whether someone is under the influence and may not be able to perform their job or may be a danger to those around them or themselves.

On Friday, the chamber will partner with law firm Husch Blackwell to host a webinar for members that will feature an overview of the amendment language and its changes as well as a question and answer session for attendees.

"It's open to whoever wants to register," she said. "We're going to offer several different resources: That webinar is the first one, and we're also contracting with a law firm to create an employer's guide to marijuana and the workplace to kind of help them as they decide to tweak or drop their policies. So we're going to be offering that as people have more questions."

The webinar will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 13. Register at

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