The marijuana movement almost swept the November 2016 elections. Eight states have passed some sort of marijuana-related laws that were on the ballot. Some states are asking about recreational legalization, while others are keeping it to medical marijuana only. No matter what happens, the fact that 25 states have already legalized marijuana in some way means that the issues of marijuana use in the construction industry are going to become much more pronounced.
Marijuana Is Good For Commercial Development
According to ConstructionDive.com, construction development in states where marijuana is legal is on the rise. The state of Michigan has 2 million square feet of marijuana-related construction projects in 2015 to increase the amount of indoor growing space required to meet the new demand. Marijuana plants require a relatively dry and warm environment to grow properly, and Michigan growers find it easier to make a profit when they can grow successfully all year round.
Growing marijuana industries in the states where marijuana is legal also bring in more people who need housing. Since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, all commerce has to be contained within the state. That means that a large number of new construction workers, growers, retailers, and other workers associated with the marijuana industry are moving into these states and creating a housing need. At this point, marijuana is good for the construction industry in the states where it is legal. But the construction industry has regulatory and policy considerations on its plate as it tries to properly address the marijuana-fueled construction boom.
The Long Arm Of The Federal Law
At the heart of the issues that the construction industry is having with new marijuana laws is that marijuana is still considered illegal by the federal government. Construction companies often send workers from their home state to other states to do work. If a worker is sent from Colorado to New York to work and uses medical marijuana, the company could have a problem if the worker cannot get approved for medical marijuana in New York. This creates a whole new level of worker health issues for contractors to deal with.
Since marijuana is federally illegal, most construction companies are forced to adopt a zero tolerance policy towards the use of marijuana. But that could create a lot of issues in states where medical marijuana is prescribed for pain, or to treat conditions such as glaucoma. The marijuana treats these conditions and that allows the worker to be able to perform their job, but it can also impair the worker and create a dangerous working environment. Construction companies are choosing to adopt those zero tolerance policies, but they are finding it difficult to move their best workers around from state to state when medical marijuana is involved.
The construction industry finds it easy to adopt a zero tolerance policy towards alcohol, even though alcohol is federally legal, because alcohol impairs a worker’s judgment and it is never prescribed as a medicine. But with marijuana, the issue is much different for the construction industry. It is possible for the construction industry to stand behind a zero tolerance policy for marijuana. But as more states legalize the drug and more doctors are prescribing it, the construction industry is finding it difficult to maintain that balance between worker health and following federal laws.
To learn more about the growing issue of marijuana in the construction industry, you can start a course with PDH Contractors and stay up to date on all of the important industry information. With PDH Contractors, you will be able to follow updated construction regulations, and learn how technology continues to alter the construction industry.