Connecticut and Delaware Pass Medical Marijuana Laws to Protect Employees

State lawmakers appear to be warming up to the idea that workers who use medical marijuana need protections against discrimination in the workplace.

Currently, sixteen states and the District of Columbia permit the ingestion of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Another twelve are considering similar legislation. Few states have regulations that protect the rights of workers who use it, however.

That’s changing. Connecticut and Delaware recently passed laws that prohibit employee discrimination and at the same time provide important exceptions designed to ensure workplace safety.

For your reference, a look at the new rules:

Medical Marijuana Bill Includes Restrictions For Employers (Daniel Schwartz, Pullman & Comley, LLC)

“Under the new [Connecticut] law, employers are prohibited from refusing to hire, firing, penalizing or threatening an employee ‘solely on the basis…as a qualifying patient or primary caregiver.’ The law does have an important caveat; the employer can act if ‘required by federal law or required to obtain federal funding.’ Thus, if there are, for example, commercial driving laws in your industry that restrict the use of marijuana, it appears that law will trump state law.” Read on>>

Employment Protections under Medical Marijuana Laws (Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP)

“… the Delaware Act prevents employers from discriminating against an employee ‘in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penaliz[ing] a person’ for his ‘status as a cardholder’ or because of a ‘positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites.’

While granting these protections, the Delaware Act qualifies the protections in two ways. First, the statute exempts employers from compliance if it would ‘cause an employer to lose a monetary or licensing related benefit under federal law or federal regulations.’ Second, despite the Delaware Act’s protections, an employee can be disciplined if he ‘used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment.’” Read on>>

Related Advisories:

Up In Smoke: Hopes Of ADA Protection For Medical Marijuana Use Are Dashed . . . For Now, Anyway (Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP)

As you all know, the Americans with Disabilities Act excludes “current users of illegal drugs” from protection. Meaning that an employer is free to take action against applicants or employees based on their current use of illegal drugs. A question that has arisen a few times, and which I’ve managed to sidestep, has been this: What about current use of medical marijuana? Assuming the employee can certify that he or she is smoking pot with a doctor’s approval and for a legitimate medical condition? In that event, can the employer take action against the employee for current use of drugs? Must the employer reasonably accommodate the drug use?” Read on>>

EEOC Locks Down Employers’ Use of Arrest and Conviction Information (K&L Gates LLP)

“The California Labor Code generally prohibits employers from asking about or considering records of arrest or detention that did not result in conviction, as well as from asking about or considering information concerning a referral to or participation in any pre-trial or post-trial diversion program… Employers in California may not ask about or consider certain misdemeanor marijuana convictions which are more than 2 years old.” Read on>>

Medical Marijuana And Your Drug Free Workplace (Jaburg Wilk)

“Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act, (the “Act”), was effective January 1, 2011… The Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee because he or she is a registered medical marijuana user, but neither the Act nor the ADHS regulations issued to interpret and implement the Act provide much guidance as to what that means or how employers can be sure they comply with this new law.” Read on>>

Medical Marijuana User Not Protected from Termination (Williams Kastner)

“The court also emphasized that there was no evidence that the statute provided employment protection or prohibited an employer from discharging an employee for medical marijuana use. The court found that the statute did not support a broad public policy that would remove all impediments to authorized medical marijuana use or forbid an employer from discharging an employee because she used medical marijuana.” Read on>>

See also: Medical Marijuana in the Workplace: What Lawyers Are Saying

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