Welcome to end of 2012 where 18 states and the District of Columbia now allowing the use of medical marijuana – and two states, Washington and Colorado, recently approving the use of recreational marijuana in spite of the Federal laws still in place that do not adhere to State approved legislation.
It appears that Illinois may be the next state to pass the medical marijuana law. In fact, it was scheduled to be voted on this past November, but it may not happen until after the holidays.
So how does all that play into work?
According to a recent Employment Law Blog, many employers are ignorant about what the law provides and really should look into how this will affect the workplace in 2013 and beyond.
Here are some key facts employers ought to know now:
What does the weed law provide?
- It is legal for certain individuals to possess limited quantities of marijuana for “palliative use.”
- “Palliative Use” refers to the alleviation of a “qualifying patient’s” symptoms of a “debilitating medical condition.”
- A “Qualifying Patient” is a resident aged 18 or older who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition (within the allowed approved States).
- A “Debilitating Medical Condition” includes cancer, glaucoma, AIDS or HIV-positive status, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, certain spinal cord injuries, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, and any other medical condition approved by the Department of Consumer Protection pursuant to regulations to be adopted.
- Persons who may possess marijuana include qualifying patients and their “primary caregivers.”
- Qualifying patients and caregivers must register with the Department of Consumer Protection;physician certification will be required.
- The Department of Consumer Protection will also issue licenses to producers and to dispensaries (who must be licensed pharmacists).
- The Department of Consumer Protection will adopt regulations setting forth a protocol for determining what constitutes an adequate one-month supply – which is the maximum quantity a patient or caregiver may have on hand – of medical marijuana.
What is the impact for employers?
- Employers may not refuse to hire a person or discharge, penalize or threaten an employee based solely on such person’s or employee’s status as a qualifying patient or primary caregiver.
- Employers may discriminate if required by federal funding or contracting provisions.
- Employers MAY continue to prohibit the use of intoxicating substances, including marijuana, at work.
- Employers MAY continue to discipline employees for being under the influence of intoxicating substances at work.
- But employers MAY NOT presume that a drug test result that is positive for marijuana means that the employee used at work or was under the influence at work.
This is certain to create chaos in our drug policies, for sure.
- Because federal law still prohibits possession/use of marijuana, the court concluded that the ADA does not require this accommodation.
Heck, maybe some folks will chill the heck out.