With more states legalizing marijuana for recreational as well as medicinal uses, many construction company owners are unsure what these new laws means for them. Can companies forbid legal marijuana use under drug-free workplace policies?

Metalcon organizers will try to clear some of the haze that surrounds this issue. Attorney Trent Cotney will present “The Legalization of Marijuana and its Impact on the Construction Industry” Oct. 18-19 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.”

The session is one of the educational program at Metalcon, which runs Oct. 18-20 in Las Vegas.

Cotney of the Florida-based Construction Law Group will discuss the impact of legal pot on employer regulations and how these recently passed state laws affect federal rules, where marijuana remains illegal.

“A recent surge of medical marijuana prescriptions and an increase in recreational usage has prompted a wealth of human resource issues,” said Cotney.  “I receive calls daily from employers. For example, I’ll get a call from a roofing business looking to hire a skilled roofer who has a medical marijuana card, but the business is a declared drug-free workplace.  Does the business give him an exemption?”

So far, eight states have OK’d the sale and recreational use of marijuana, including Nevada, the host state for this year’s Metalcon conference. Twice as many permit it to treat certain medical conditions.

 “The construction industry is extremely vulnerable to safety challenges with the legalization of marijuana,” Cotney added.  “Doing sheet metal work, roofing, operating heavy equipment―all present safety challenges for an individual with a medical marijuana card.”  

More information on Metalcon and Cotney’s session is available at the official Metalcon website.