Washington or BUST(ed)!

Sex and Drugs, give the people what they want! Joanne Deshenaux, Legal Advisor for SHRM, posts an article this month regarding some of the juicier topics facing voters next week. All told, voters in 38 states will consider 174 different state measures on Nov. 6, 2012. The potential impact to the workplace and/or the individual AT the workplace should be evident:

Questions appear on the ballots in more than one state concerning:

*Medical marijuana use. New employee question: What’s the co-pay on Panama Red or BioDiesel? ~ Currently, 17 (did you realize it was that many?) states allow for use of medicinal marijuana. Two more states, Arkansas and Massachusetts, are putting the issue to voters this year while a third state, Montana, seeks to modify & expand its current program. Corporate drug testing policies and procedures, benefit plans, and even corporate culture will all be impacted should the new law come to fruition.

*Legalization of marijuana for recreational use. ~ Why not push “all in?” That seems to be the case in Colorado (shocker), Washington, and Oregon, who will all ask voters to decide if small amounts of legalized marijuana should be legally sold and utilized. If you’ll remember, California tried this a few years back and was denied, but the cause is obviously still gaining momentum. This could add an entirely new feature to the smoking area at work.

*Same-sex marriage. ~ Six states + Washington, DC have legalized same-sex marriage; up for consideration this year, Maine, Maryland (ironic, right? COME ON, who’s with me??) and Washington will have initiatives up for voter consideration. In another twist, Minnesotans will be considering an amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Withholding determinations, insurance coverage, and an increasingly lively water cooler should all be bi-products of these initiatives.

Human Resources obviously has a stake in the game should these initiatives pass (or fail, in some cases.) Be aware, be prepared, and be alert to the possibility that questions will be forthcoming. It’s our job to navigate change, maintain a bipartisan attitude, and have a plan when called upon.

One addendum: Washington State – already legalizes medical marijuana use, is proposing recreational use, is proposing same-sex marriage….Party On Wayne!

John “Whit” Whitaker is the Founder and Managing Partner of HR Hardball™, and by no means is he endorsing or recommending a vacation to Washington. To send Mr. Knows-it-All an email, or to submit your own thoughts for publishing on this site: