Virginia’s Governor signed a bill making it the first state in the South to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use starting on July 1, 2021. It is projected to take 3 years to be fully enacted, assuming that the legislature is reenacted next year, and includes plans for retail sales to begin on January 1, 2024.

What Changed?

The new legislation allows adults in Virginia over 21 years of age to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to gift up to an ounce of marijuana to another adult (over 21). Households are limited to cultivating no more than four marijuana plants and must ensure these plants are not accessible to children. 

Legalization allows possession; however, it is not to be consumed in public places and there are still penalties. Possession of more than one ounce but less than one pound of marijuana will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $25. Possession of more than one pound of marijuana will be subject to a felony punishable by up to ten years in jail and up to $250,000. Consumption in a public place is subject to a civil penalty of up to $25 for the first offense and additional penalties for additional violations up to a Class 4 misdemeanor. 

What does this mean for the workplace? 

Managing the effects on employee function and risk depends on job functions, the business, and company policies. It is critical that companies take a look at explicit workplace policies addressing factors such as maintaining a drug-free workplace, highly regulated jobs and industries (think high physical risks and federal/government contracting) and accommodating certified medical marijuana cardholders. Drug-free workplaces will most likely keep drug and paraphernalia free policies.  

How do we proceed within gray areas?

Recreational use will be legal to an extent. Virginia is still an at-will employment state and employers may still require pre-employment and random drug testing as well as after an accident, or if the employee is suspected of being impaired at work. Employers may question and take action if an employee is under the influence on the job based on job performance or other reasonable suspicions. 

Regulated employment is not protected under the new laws and applies to safety-sensitive or federally regulated contracts or contractors. Employers may drug test employees in certain regulated positions whether or not an employee is showing signs of impairment. If an employer is required to test certain employees by federal law or as a condition of employment, the employee test results must be evaluated on an individual, case-by-case basis, and may result in rescinded offers or termination. 

In any case, employees who hold a certified medical marijuana card must disclose their medical marijuana authorization status before or when they are presented with a drug test. 

Medical Marijuana Cards have been legal in Virginia since 2015. The new legislation provides more employment protections for medical marijuana cardholders; however, the law does not protect against adverse employment action for use or possession of cannabis oil during work hours, any act that could cause an employer to be in violation of the federal law or that would result in the loss of a federal contract or federal funding, and any defense industrial base sector employers decision to hire or retain any applicant or employee who tests positive for THC in excess of specified amounts. 

As with any new legislation, wording, context, and interpretation will keep many of us in a wait and see state. Proceeding with caution and due diligence is a good place to start! 

 

**For more information and the source of this information, go to https://lis.virginia.gov/000/chapter550.pdf 

Richard Brinkley

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Martha (Marty) Cerkez

Recruiter

How long have you been with Priority Staffing? I’ve been with Priority for a year and a half now.

What is your professional background? I worked closely with college administration, faculty, staff and students for many years.

What makes you a perfect fit at Priority Staffing? There are few things in life that have a bigger impact on an individual and their family than landing or missing out on a great job. I take great pride and satisfaction in knowing that I can make a difference!

What type of candidate is a perfect fit for Priority Staffing? Someone who wants to work closely with me to help them. A great candidate needs to understand that we work TOGETHER to find that perfect job. They need to be serious about finding a position and available quickly for an interview. Jobs fill quickly, so we need to move fast!

What is one piece of advice you would give to candidates today? Stay on top of your resume.  Update your address and other contact information as soon as it changes. If you are not prepared to interview, notify us immediately. There’s nothing worse than getting an email or call from an employer at 3:15 pm to say that, “Mary did not arrive for her 3 p.m. interview today.”

What would you want clients to know about Priority Staffing? We are a group of highly dedicated, experienced and caring people who are good at what we do! We take great pride in our candidates and celebrate their triumphs!

If you could land any other job, what would it be and why? I would love to be a Professional Internet Christmas Shopper. Imagine shopping in your bathrobe with a cup of coffee in your hand! (now if only I could hire a Professional Present Wrapper, my life would be complete!)

Fun Facts:

Lori E. Chesson

Recruiting Manager

How long have you been with Priority Staffing?  I’ve been with Priority for seven years.

What is your professional background? I have held supervisory positions in banking (10 years), and in retail customer service (8 years).

What makes you a perfect fit at Priority Staffing? I believe dedication and the ability to listen and understand the needs of a client make me a great fit.

What type of candidate is a perfect fit for Priority Staffing?  Someone who is hard-working, dependable, trustworthy and able to maintain professionalism at all costs!

What is one piece of advice you would give to candidates today?  Be PRESENT!!  Anyone can be trained on anything, but you have to “show up” to be given a chance.

What would you want clients to know about Priority Staffing?  We are a diligent, committed group of staffing professionals who are dedicated to finding the best fit for your team.  We love what we do!

If you could land any other job, what would it be and why? I’d love to be a professional Napper!  I could travel around and let everyone know the best places to take naps. Why? — because naps are AMAZING!

Fun facts:

Michelle Tickle

Relationship Manager

How long have you been with Priority Staffing? I’ve been here five and a half years.

What is your professional background? I was an HR Generalist for seven years prior to joining Priority Staffing, and spent 20 years with VF Jeanswear, where I began my career in the Equipment Center.

What makes you a perfect fit at Priority Staffing? I truly love helping people, which is why I transferred to Human Resources. I enjoy the fulfillment of finding the perfect person for each position.

What type of candidate is a perfect fit for Priority Staffing? Someone willing to put in the hard work and dedication it takes to be successful. Candidates MUST work with Priority as a TEAM to be successful in their job.

What is one piece of advice you would give to candidates today? Candidates MUST be honest with us about everything; what type of job they are willing to accept, what salary they are willing to accept, and where they are willing to work. If they are not, it is only going to hurt their credibility in the long run and possibly hurt their chances of us working with them again.

What would you want clients to know about Priority Staffing? We are committed to our clients and do our best to find the perfect candidate for every job order. We care about our clients and candidates very much!

If you could land any other job, what would it be and why? It would be a toss-up between a Professional Shopper and Professional Traveler, but I think I’d choose Professional Traveler. I love traveling all over, especially foreign countries, visiting places I’ve never been, places I’ve only dreamed about; learning their cultures, sometimes things I don’t like very much, but sometimes things I learn are great! I would be more than happy to give travel tips on all of my adventures!!

Fun Facts:

Susan Simmons

Account Manager

How long have you been with Priority? I’ve been with Priority more than 20 years.

What is your professional background? I’ve been a teacher and worked in sales.

What makes you a perfect fit at Priority Staffing? I love to learn about clients’ processes and challenges… then see how I can present an effective solution. I’m a great fit for Priority because working for a small business lets me go right to the source to get answers and solutions approved — no RED TAPE here.

What type of candidate is a perfect fit for Priority Staffing? An honest and caring person.

What is one piece of advice you would give to candidates today? Leave your cell phones in the car!!

What would you want clients to know about Priority Staffing? We are delighted and proud to go the extra mile to assure that our employees and clients are thrilled with our service.

If you could land any other job, what would it be and why? I would love to work as a buyer who travels the world to find unique items for home, business or personal use.

Susan Springer

Sales Account Representative

How long have you been with Priority Staffing? I started here in the fall of 2017.

What is your professional background? I have a background in commercial and residential real estate

What makes you a perfect fit at Priority Staffing?  As a Sales Account Representative, I meet new people every day. I have a curious nature and love learning about other people and their business. The staffing industry has given me an opportunity to learn about many different industries in Hampton Roads; we are a wonderfully diverse community!

What type of candidate is a perfect fit for Priority Staffing? There are many perfect fits for Priority Staffing, but the common denominator is a candidate with a great attitude and a willingness to work hard.

What is one piece of advice you would give to candidates today? Do a self-critique and don’t take short cuts when it comes to the job hunt. You are awesome; so be sure to present yourself in a way that the rest of the world can see just how awesome you are! 

What would you want clients to know about Priority Staffing?  We are a local, family-owned company that truly cares for its clients and will do all we can to ensure your experience with us is top notch.

If you could land any other job, what would it be and why?  I’d be a crew member for the TV show “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown.” I’d love to travel the world and experience different cultures.

Fun facts:

Paulette Brinkley

Administrative Assistant

How long have you been with Priority Staffing? I’ve been a part of Priority for 23 years.

What is your professional background? I’ve worked for national and local staffing firms as a receptionist, an Interviewer and as a payroll assistant.

What makes you a perfect fit at Priority Staffing? I like people — talking with them and meeting new people and staffing is a people business!

What type of candidate is a perfect fit for Priority Staffing? Someone who really wants to work and do a great job!

What is one piece of advice you would give to candidates today? Be your best. The rest will follow.

What would you want clients to know about Priority Staffing? We are a dedicated group of professionals who work well together to achieve the best outcome for both the customer and the employee.

If you could land any other job, what would it be and why? Professional vacationer and traveling restaurant sampler!

Some of my favorite things:

Carrie Brinkley

Payroll Manager

How long have you been with Priority Staffing? I’ve been with Priority nine years now.

What is your professional background? I have a background in office management and payroll.

What makes you a perfect fit at Priority Staffing? With the business and all parties involved, we operate in order to do the right thing by all and that is the way I like to live.

What type of candidate is a perfect fit for Priority Staffing? Those who are responsive, hard working, responsible, appreciative, and positive.

What is one piece of advice you would give to candidates today? Not much is private anymore, so be aware of and comfortable with what is on your social media profiles.

What would you want clients to know about Priority Staffing? We do more than push resume results your way — we meet with every candidate before determining their fit and interest your need. This is a major value when dealing with actual people.

If you could land any other job, what would it be and why? A music supervisor for film and television.  My waking life is always better with music.

Fun facts:

I don’t mind eels,
Except as meals,
And the way they feels.
– Ogden Nash, “The Eel”