On March 20, 2019, House Bill 243 (HB243) was introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives. HB243, a bipartisan bill with extensive support from both the majority and minority leaders, would create the Compassion, Access, Research, and Expansion Act (CARE Act) to legalize medical marijuana in Alabama for individuals with certain medical conditions. In its current form, HB243 lists 33 medical conditions and categories of conditions for which an individual would be eligible for a medical marijuana card in Alabama, including addiction, anxiety, autism, cancer, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, depression, glaucoma, epilepsy/seizures, irritable bowel syndrome, posttraumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, and terminal conditions.
In recent months, the New Mexico Legislature enacted legislation expanding employment protections for medical marijuana users. Recent changes to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, New Mexico’s medical marijuana law, expand the range of medical conditions for which medical marijuana may be prescribed and create new employment protections for employees who legally use medical marijuana.
Oklahoma employers received a much-needed boost from the recent passage of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, more commonly called the “Unity Bill.” This legislation comes after much upheaval about the Oklahoma electorate’s passage of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA)—State Question 788—in the summer of 2018. Many experts have characterized the Oklahoma medical marijuana law as a permissive-use marijuana law due to the fact that the law has very few restrictions compared to other states’ medical marijuana laws.
On February 19, 2019, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a ruling in Eplee v. City of Lansing, clarifying that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) does not create “an independent right protecting the medical use of marijuana in all circumstances, nor does it create a protected class for users of medical marijuana.”
Manufacturers in Canada face a labor and employment environment that is much more employee and union-friendly than the United States. That said, a sophisticated manufacturing employer that is educated, strategic, and proactive about managing its plant can find itself with a competitive business advantage. Here are just a few of the “Need to Knows” for manufacturers that are presently doing business or thinking about doing business in the Great White North.
A recent U.S. district court decision in Connecticut shows that drug testing applicants and employees in jurisdictions that authorize the use of legalized medical marijuana may present challenges.
Missouri residents recently voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. Amendment 2, the Medical Marijuana and Veteran Healthcare Services Initiative, overwhelmingly passed on November 6, 2018, amending the Missouri Constitution to allow the use of medical marijuana for any medical condition approved by a physician.
On the night of November 6, 2018, Michigan voters passed the ballot initiative known as the “Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act” (MRTMA) to allow the limited use and possession of marihuana.
On October 17, 2018, Canada’s federal Cannabis Act went into effect, legalizing the use and possession of a limited amount of marijuana for adults over the age of 18. The new law makes good on a campaign promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and makes Canada the second country to legalize marijuana use on a national basis. It is intended to make Canada’s marijuana industry safer by keeping the drug out of the hands of kids and steering profits away from criminals. This newfound freedom (and tax revenue), however, may come at a cost to those trying to cross the border into the United States, where marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) added an anti-retaliation provision to the recordkeeping regulation finalized in May 2016, and it seems as if the workplace safety and health community has not stopped talking about it since.
Twenty years ago, the Tennessee Department of Labor (TNDOL) adopted regulations implementing the Tennessee Drug-Free Workplace Act and establishing the Tennessee Drug-Free Workplace Program. This year, the TNDOL substantially revised these regulations.
A Connecticut federal court judge provided further clarification for employers concerning Connecticut’s Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA).
Oklahomans voted 57 percent in favor of State Question 788, resulting in the passage of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) on June 26, 2018. Many experts consider the new law to be one of the broadest medical marijuana laws in the United States.
What is currently considered to be a Schedule I substance with “a high potential for abuse and the potential to create severe psychological and/or physical dependence” and “no currently accepted medical use” may soon be decriminalized.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes that an employee or applicant who is currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs (prescription or otherwise) is not a “qualified individual” with a disability. Individuals, however, are protected by the ADA from discrimination on the basis of past drug addiction.
Massachusetts voters legalized recreational marijuana through a ballot referendum in 2016. As of July 1, 2018, retail marijuana stores are now permitted to operate in the state. The law allows cities and towns to exercise local control to ban or limit marijuana dispensaries, which are now opening in various locations around the state.
In recent years, medical marijuana has been used extensively and has gained acceptance amongst California residents. In keeping up with the trend, lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would amend California’s employment discrimination laws to impose liability on employers for alleged discrimination against medical marijuana users.
Iowa’s governor recently signed legislation (H.F. 2383) amending Iowa’s already onerous drug testing law (Iowa Code section 730.5) relating to private employers.
On April 3, 2018, San Francisco amended its Fair Chance Ordinance. The amended ordinance, which will take effect on October 1, 2018, will significantly impact employers that employ, or seek to employ, individuals to work eight hours or more per week in San Francisco.
There are roughly 30,000 people with medical marijuana registry identification cards in Illinois, and marijuana dispensaries are becoming a more common sight. As the popularity of this treatment continues to grow, contractors are more likely to be faced with hiring and disciplinary decisions involving employees using marijuana.
During the November 8, 2016 statewide general election, California voters enacted the Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). The AUMA authorizes licensed sellers to sell recreational use marijuana, or cannabis, per certain requirements and limitations. State authorities began issuing licenses to sell recreational use marijuana on January 1, 2018, and Californians over 21 years of age have been able to lawfully purchase recreational cannabis in California since that date.
Beginning in the summer of 2018, Vermont residents will be able to legally possess and use recreational marijuana, under a new law passed in January of 2018. Vermont is the ninth state (in addition to Washington, D.C.) to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but became the first state to legalize it through the legislative process, rather than a voter-approved ballot referendum. Vermont’s new recreational marijuana law will have implications for companies with employees in the Green Mountain State.
On January 4, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) position on enforcement of federal marijuana laws. Under the Obama administration, the DOJ adopted a hands-off approach to enforcing federal marijuana laws in those states where marijuana was legal for medical and/or recreational use. But in a one-page memorandum to U.S. attorneys, Sessions reversed this approach, emphasizing the fact that marijuana has and continues to be unlawful under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
News accounts report that thousands of Californians celebrated the first day of 2018 by exercising their new right to legally purchase marijuana for recreational use. Recreational marijuana shops were overwhelmed by long lines of customers.
2017 has been quite a year, with ever-changing regulations, trends, and employee expectations at the local, state, and federal levels. In this environment of constant flux, an outdated employee handbook can leave an employer unnecessarily susceptible to potential claims. Reviewing and updating handbook policies to reflect the latest legal developments and best practices, however, can help your company avoid unnecessary exposure.
On November 13, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published a final rule making significant changes to 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 40, which affects employers administering drug tests in the transportation industry. The final rule states that its purpose is to remain current with the changes made to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs, which were announced in early 2017.
On November 3, 2017, Maine Governor Paul LePage announced that he had vetoed a bill sent to his desk with tepid support that would have taxed and regulated the commercial sale of recreational marijuana. The veto prolongs a somewhat odd state of affairs in Maine in which Mainers may legally possess and cultivate recreational marijuana for personal use, but the commercial sale of recreational pot has yet to be authorized.
Connecticut law allows the use of marijuana by qualified patients for medicinal purposes and expressly prohibits employers from taking adverse employment actions because of an individual’s status as a qualified medical marijuana user. Federal law classifies marijuana as an illegal controlled substance and categorically prohibits the use of marijuana for any purpose. For employers in Connecticut with pre-hire drug testing requirements and policies on illegal drug use, this conflict has led to a cloudy haze as to what actions may be taken if a registered medical marijuana user fails an employment-related drug test.
And the biggest employment case of 2017 . . . is not here yet. The reality: Everyone will be eagerly waiting another four to six months for the biggest and most-anticipated employment case of 2017: class action waivers. While the Supreme Court of the United States’ taking certiorari in January 2017 and likely issuing its decision in late 2017/early 2018—unequivocally the biggest thing 2017 will see, several other cases and developments so far in 2017 are worthy of discussion.