|Posted:||August 28, 2020 10:17 AM|
|From:||Senator Kim L. Ward|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Medical Marijuana and the Workplace|
|I am introducing legislation to provide more clarity for both employees and employers in the use of medical marijuana in the workplace.
Based upon calls my office continues to receive from both employers and employees, I believe we need to make changes to the Medical Marijuana Act in how the law regulates employers as they manage employees or job applicants who use medical marijuana.
We legalized medical marijuana in 2016 with Act 16 while its use was unlawful under federal law. Four years later, its use is still illegal under federal law. This inconsistency has created a legal paradox for employers since guidelines for managing an employee or job applicant’s use of a legal prescription drug are set at the federal level and therefore cannot be applied to medical marijuana use.
Act 16 seems to recognize this issue and does include a number of provisions related to the workplace aimed to protect employees and offer guidance for when medical marijuana use may be considered in the context of an employment decision. While these provisions were surely included in good faith, employers have reported significant uncertainty and confusion interpreting what the law expects of them when medical marijuana becomes a factor in their workplace. Employees, including bargaining units who represent many of them, are left unsure of what their rights are in how medical marijuana can be used legally by someone on a job.
My legislation will help address this ambiguity in several ways, including by defining several key terms; providing guidance for employers, employees and job applicants related to drug testing; outlining the circumstances under which disclosure of medical marijuana use may be required for safety-sensitive positions; clarifying how medical marijuana should be treated as it relates to unemployment compensation and workers' compensation laws; among other reforms.
It is important to note my legislation does not affect the key provision of Act 16 that advocates to prohibit employers from firing, refusing to hire or otherwise discriminating against an individual solely based on medical marijuana use.
This bill will simply address the confusion Act 16 has caused in the workplace and give Pennsylvania employers and employees the clarification and solid guidance they are seeking.
Introduced as SB1360