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Attorney: Challenge for New Jersey employers will be testing workers for marijuana impairment

What you need to know about recreational marijuana use and your job 02:15

TRENTON, N.J. -- Recreational marijuana sales start on Thursday in the Garden State.

CBS2's Meg Baker has what you need to know when it comes to pot use and your job.

Cannabis may be legal, but that doesn't mean you can partake and work. Employers can prohibit it and require a drug test if work or safety is compromised.

READ MORENew Jersey dispensaries expect big turnout as recreational marijuana sales start next week

Matthew Collins is a cannabis labor and relations lawyer. He said a challenge for employers will be testing for impairment.

"Unlike alcohol, which there is a very easy and scientific method for testing that will determine impairment, marijuana usage is a lot different, mostly because marijuana will still be present in your system for weeks at a time," Collins said.

READ MORENew Jersey to begin recreational marijuana sales on April 21

Under state law, employers cannot fire someone or take other employment actions based on an applicant or employee failing a marijuana drug test. Cannabis law requires employers to consult a workplace impairment recognition expert or a "WIRE."

"The problem is that the regulations were supposed to be issued to indicate what you had to do to get this certification to be a WIRE and the regulations have not addressed it yet," Collins said.

In the public sector, New Jersey's attorney general says off-duty police officers are permitted to consume cannabis and should not face discipline for doing so under the state's current legal marijuana law. But some lawmakers say first responders should be held to higher standard and voiced concern about this since marijuana stays in people's systems longer.

Baker asked Gov. Phil Murphy if he would consider amending the law to ban law enforcement and some others from using cannabis.

"Listen, I think if there's any reasonable steps in all of the above that come my way am I open to considering that? Absolutely. I'll leave it at that," Murphy said.

John Wisniewski, a former state assemblyman who serves on the state Fire and Safety Commission, said scientific issues regarding impairment tend to be difficult for lawmakers to govern.

"How do you create the rules if it's legal to use? You can't prevent a firefighter from having a beer at home, so how do you prevent a firefighter from having a joint at home?" Wisniewski said.

He said an emphasis should be on creating a more accurate test to establish a bright line test to determine if someone can be on duty or can't be.

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