Cannabis is legal in CT, but Wilton keeps restrictions on it for town employees

Photo of J.D. Freda
FILE - This March 22, 2019 file photo shows a bud on a marijuana plant at Compassionate Care Foundation's medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

FILE - This March 22, 2019 file photo shows a bud on a marijuana plant at Compassionate Care Foundation's medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

Julio Cortez / Associated Press

WILTON — Prompted by the state’s legalization of recreational cannabis in 2021, officials adopted an updated substance abuse policy for town employees this week.

While legalized in the state, the town reserves the right to determine how it considers potential employees during the hiring process who use recreational cannabis. The policy also doesn’t allow employees to be under the influence of cannabis or be in possession of it at work.

“With the legalization of recreational and palliative cannabis, it is important for employees to know and understand our workplace rules,” First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said Wednesday. “It is also important for the town to adopt the policy to meet the statute's requirement that a policy must be adopted for us to continue our current practices, including requiring a cannabis test of candidates.”

The Board of Selectmen met with attorney Rebecca Goldberg at the most recent regular selectmen meeting, before passing the revision unanimously at a special meeting on Monday. Vanderslice did this as the statewide statute that legalized cannabis includes employment laws goes into effect on July 1.

“While you’re not required to have a policy on July 1, the problem is, you become substantially limited in terms of what you can do in terms of disciplining or terminating employees or not giving consideration to applicants because of cannabis use,” Goldberg told the selectmen.

She clarified that applicants cannot be discriminated against for palliative use, or “what we think of as medicinal marijuana,” as it has been legal in the state for quite some time.

The updated policy states that, even in the case of use of cannabis in accordance with Connecticut law for palliative use, “employees must not report to work under the influence of cannabis.” In addition, the town will not be subject to “make accommodations for an employee or allow an employee to perform his or her duties while under the influence of cannabis, or to possess, use or otherwise consume cannabis while performing such duties or on the premises of the employer, except possession of palliative cannabis by a qualifying patient in accordance with Connecticut law for palliative use.”

The Town of Wilton also reserves the right to test any employee for drugs or alchohol if a supervisor deems it reasonable and some employees are also subject to random drug testing programs due to their role with the town.

“A positive test reading for drugs and/or alcohol (including one that is solely positive for THC) may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination,” the policy reads. “Failure to submit to a test may also result in disciplinary action up to and including immediate termination.”