In many companies marijuana is already in the workplace, though management may not be aware of it, according to Judy Sailer, a human resources specialist and leadership and development professional.
Sailer will lead a webinar titled “Best Practices for Marijuana in the Workplace” Thursday, December 5, from 11 a.m. to noon. The event is sponsored by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. Register at www.njbia.org or call 609-393-7707.
“We need to be aware of marijuana usage, have a plan, and implement that plan,” says Sailer, adding that research shows that 1 in 12 people in the U.S. have used marijuana in the last month.
The webinar will cover the changes made to New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) with the enactment of the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act. Addressing the impact of these changes on the business community, Sailer will discuss employee and employer rights as they relate to the legal requirements affecting organizations. She will also discuss ways marijuana laws have affected companies in other parts of the country. The event will conclude with a discussion on best practices for creating a personnel policy.
The Act, signed July 2 of this year, is named in memory of Jake Honig, a 7-year-old Howell boy who died of brain cancer in 2018. Jake’s father, Mike Honig, said that after several hospital procedures and before his son’s death, Jake was given medical marijuana to alleviated his pain. “You should be allowed to do that,” he said at a press conference with Governor Phil Murphy.
“Today’s legislation creates a medical marijuana program that is modernized, compassionate, progressive, and meets the needs of patients,” said Murphy in a statement when he signed the legislation.
Changes made to the state’s original MMP respond to issues described in a New Jersey Department of Health report released in March, 2018. The changes include:
Raising the monthly limit of marijuana from two ounces to three ounces; extending the authorization period issued by a physician from 90 days to one year; allowing edibles for adults in addition to minors; a phase-out of sales tax; allowing physician assistants to authorize medical marijuana; adding employment protections for patients; authorizing multiple caregivers per patient; reciprocity with other states’ medical marijuana programs; requiring published price lists of dispensaries; allowing home delivery; and creation of a cannabis regulatory commission. (See U.S. 1, June 26.)
Sailer’s webinar will focus on the employment-related aspects of the bill, which states that employers are prohibited from taking adverse actions against employees solely based on their status as medical marijuana patients and their participation in taking marijuana at home during non-work hours.
If employees or applicants test positive for marijuana, they have the right to show they have a legitimate medical reason for taking the drug that has been authorized by a physician. Under this act, an employer can only fire or demote a person for work-related issues, such as poor performance or disruptive behavior.
Prior to this act, employers were not required to accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana. On the other hand, the act clarifies that nothing in the bill requires employers to allow the consumption of medical marijuana during work hours. It also stipulates that an employers are not required to do anything that would jeopardize a federal government contract or anything that could cause loss of federal funding.
Sailer grew up in Hamilton Township after her family’s move from Philadelphia. After high school, Sailer earned a bachelor’s degree at Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey) and earned a master’s in organizational management and leadership from Springfield College. She studied human resources management at Rutgers University, Camden, in 2009 and earned certification as a Professional in Human Resources.
She attributes her career success in large part to her father, a detective for the Philadelphia police department, and her mother, who worked as an executive director for the YM-YWCA at various locations. In 2013 Sailer was named “Super Woman of the Year” by South Jersey Magazine. On her LinkedIn profile, she says: “I want to make sure that I am following my parents’ model of caring about my community. If that means being named a Super Woman, whether out front in the limelight or by helping others shine, I’ll take it… as long as it makes a difference.”
Today Sailer works for Primepoint HRMS & Payroll as an HR specialist. Among her responsibilities with the company, she conducts HR training for several businesses and organizations.
Sailer also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Rider University, Rowan University, and Rowan College. In addition, she is a special events project manager with the Alzheimer’s Association, Delaware Valley. Prior to her current positions, she was the president and CEO of Smart 7 Strategy, an organization training program. She has also held director positions with the Habitat for Humanity-Burlington County, the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, and at several YMCA locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
A necessary key to managing a company is staying abreast of new laws, cultural changes, and customer needs and expectations, Sailer says.
From a legal perspective, current developing issues include the legislators’ potential acceptance of recreational marijuana and the $15 minimum wage.
A cultural change that employers are facing today is the age range of the workforce, which includes five generations (known as traditionalists, baby boomers, generation X, millennials, and generation Z). Each generation has its own characteristics and its own expectations about the work environment, Sailer says.
Employers need to have a handle on substitution planning: replacing one employee with another to fill a temporary or permanent vacancy; and succession planning: leveraging the knowledge of an employee who can pass the experience on to a junior person or someone stepping up to a new role.
Good customer service is critical for a company’s success, she says, warning that poor service can be the death of the company. “After all, everyone likes to be treated well.”
In a changing environment, being an employer can be tricky and costly, Sailer says. That’s why it is important to stay informed and develop policies and strategies to manage the changes.