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Recreational marijuana in Illinois could impact your workplace drug-testing

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) - Dubuque area businesses will gather to discuss local impacts from Illinois recreational marijuana.

The Dubuque Chamber of Commerce will host a panel discussing how businesses should review their drug polices and make potential changes.

THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, can stay in a persons bloodstream for up for 30-days after consumption. This means businesses near the Iowa and Illinois border have to decide if they will include marijuana in drug screenings.

Darin Harmon, attorney for Kintzinger Harmon Konrardy PLC, said employers could have a difficulty filling open positions if they exclude marijuana users.

"In today's economy with very low unemployment, you have to decide if that's something you want to do," said Harmon. "Because with low unemployment, if you exclude people who test positive from marijuana, you could be excluding a whole class of people."

However, companies could risk having their work mans compensation or auto insurance claims denied if their employee tests positive for marijuana. Dan Wellik, Vice President of Freedman Insurance, said not all insurance companies will provide coverage for marijuana-related incidents.

"As I mentioned, I think workers compensation carriers are tossing it up in the air that, 'What happens if we have to pay for medical marijuana as a workers compensation carrier,'" said Wellik. "And that's kind of split depending on who you talk to."

Currently, Iowa law said if a private business enforces a drug test, and their employee does not pass, then they can be terminated. However, companies are not required to enforce drug testing.

Iowa companies do not have to adopt drug-free workplace polices.

The panel recommends both employers and their staff learn the signs of drug abuse if they suspect someone may be under the influence while on the job.

Ashley Scott

Reporter, Dubuque

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