University Policies
Policy Contact
Employee and Labor Relations University Human Resources Email 401-863-3175

Drug-Free Workplace Policy

Policy No. Issue Date Effective Date

1.0 Policy Purpose

Brown University is committed to maintaining a Workplace free from the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, Possession, or use of illegal drugs or Controlled Substances. The University recognizes the health and safety risks of substance abuse in the Workplace.

2.0 To Whom the Policy Applies

This policy applies to all staff, faculty, and student Employees (collectively referred to as “Employees”).

3.0 Policy Statement

Brown University expects its Employees to maintain a safe and healthy environment. Brown University prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, Possession, or use of a Controlled Substance, of any kind in any amount on University property or at its Worksites, or while conducting University business away from the campus. This prohibition includes the manufacture, distribution, dispensation, Possession, or use of prescription drugs without a prescription.

In accordance with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, Brown University must certify that it will maintain a drug-free Workplace. As a term and condition of employment at Brown, Employees are prohibited from the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, Possession or use of illegal drugs and Controlled Substances on Brown's premises, or at its Worksites. Additionally, Employees must make reports in accordance with Section 5.0 of this policy. Brown may require an Employee to participate in a drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program. 

In addition, Employees are prohibited from consuming alcohol at any time during the course of performing of their job duties and responsibilities in the Workplace, unless specifically allowed by existing University policy. Employees who consume alcohol as specifically allowed are expected at all times to be able to safely perform their job duties.

The University will not permit criminal activity of any kind by anyone on its property or on property under its direct control. If criminal activity is found, Brown will take appropriate action up to and including terminating an Employee.

3.1 Research Involving Cannabis

Brown University may engage in lawful, University-approved research involving cannabis, including certain federally funded research. All such research must be conducted in accordance with relevant law. The Office of the Vice President for Research, in consultation with other University units (e.g., Office of the General Counsel, University Compliance), can assist researchers with determining whether a proposed research study involving cannabis may be conducted at Brown University.

4.0 Definition

For the purpose of this policy, the terms below have the following definitions:

Controlled Substance:

A drug or other substance that is regulated by the government because it may be abused or cause addiction. Controlled Substances include opioids, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, and anabolic steroids. Controlled Substances with known medical use, such as morphine, Valium, and Ritalin, are available only by prescription from a licensed medical professional.


Having one or more illegal drugs or Controlled Substances in one's unlawful Possession, either for personal use, distribution, sale or otherwise. A person has Possession of drugs if they have actual physical control of the drugs, if the drugs are on that person, or if they have the power and intent to control their disposition and use.


Includes any property, building, office space or other property, including parking lots, owned, leased or operated by the University. It also includes any other site during the time in which an Employee is being paid to engage in University business or University activity. An Employee is also considered to be at a Worksite at all times in vehicles owned or provided by Brown.

5.0 Responsibilities

All individuals to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy. University supervisors and Employees with student oversight duties are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure and enforce compliance with it.


Employees are expected not to be under the influence of illegal drugs or engage in the unlawful use of Controlled Substances when at the Workplace.

Employees are required to promptly report acts of suspected unlawful drug use or Possession occurring in the Workplace to their supervisor, manager or University Human Resources (UHR).

Employees must, as a condition of employment, notify their immediate supervisor or UHR of any criminal drug statute conviction for a violation occurring in the Workplace no later than five days after the conviction. If an Employee is engaged in the performance of work pursuant to a grant or contract funded by a federal agency, Brown will notify the relevant federal agency, as appropriate and in accordance with applicable requirements and law, within 10 days of receiving notice from the Employee of a criminal drug statute conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace or otherwise receiving actual notice of a conviction.

Within 30 days after receiving notice from an Employee of a criminal drug statute conviction, Brown will:

(1) take appropriate personnel action against the Employee, up to and including termination; or

(2) require the Employee to satisfactorily participate in a drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program approved for those purposes by a Federal, State, or local health, law enforcement, or other appropriate agency.

Supervisors and managers:

Supervisors and managers must take observations or suspicions of unlawful drug Possession or use in the Workplace seriously, and contact UHR or the Department of Public Safety promptly regarding appropriate action to address any of these circumstances.

6.0 Consequences for Violating this Policy

Failure to comply with this and related policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment or association with the University, in accordance with applicable (e.g., staff, faculty, student) disciplinary procedures, or for non-Employees may result in the suspension or revocation of the user’s relationship with Brown University.

7.0 Related Information

This policy is not a legal document. This policy does not confer a term of employment, nor is the language intended to establish a contract of employment, express or implied, between any Employee and Brown University. The University reserves the right to change, amend or terminate any of its human resources policies at any time for any reason.

Brown University is a community in which Employees are encouraged to share workplace concerns with University leadership. Additionally, Brown’s Anonymous Reporting Hotline allows anonymous and confidential reporting on matters of concern online or by phone (877-318-9184).

The following information complements and supplements this document. The information is intended to help explain this policy and is not an all-inclusive list of policies, procedures, laws and requirements.

7.4 Frequently Asked Questions


7.5 Related Information

Policy Owner and Contact(s)

Policy Owner: Vice President of University Human Resources

Policy Approved by: Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration

Contact Information:

Employee and Labor Relations University Human Resources Email 401-863-3175

Policy History

Policy Issue Date:

Policy Effective Date:

Policy Update/Review Summary:

Policy version superseded by this policy:

  • Drug-Free Workplace Policy, Effective Date: November 15, 2019
  • Drugs in the Workplace (20.042), Revision Date: January 30, 2019