Bill Passes in Louisiana that Will Protect Employees Who Use Medical Marijuana
Louisiana made medical marijuana legal in 2015 and legislators have expanded the program significantly since then.
Although Louisiana has been somewhat slow in addressing many of the concerns with the program, the State passed a slew of legislation this year that focuses on their medical marijuana program and its infrastructure.
Recently, a new bill passed that offers State employees who use medical marijuana a certain level of protection. The bill also offers prospective hires a more inclusive path to becoming a State employee.
Louisiana State employees who use medical marijuana will no longer experience consequences solely based on their status as a medical marijuana patient, though there are some restrictions.
State Employees Who Use Medical Marijuana to Receive Protections
State Employees & Prospective Hires Can Now Legally Use Medical Marijuana
HB988 was sent to the Governor for executive approval on 5/03, passing through the Senate with a voting tally of 26-8 with 4 absent.
The goal of House Bill 988 is to create protections for current and potential State employees who use medical marijuana, and to outline specific positions that are prohibited from using medical marijuana while employed by the State.
Under the bill, employees or potential hires who are suffering from a debilitating medical condition and have received a medical marijuana certification would no longer receive consequences in their workplace.
Some of the employees prohibited from medical marijuana use include emergency medical services, law enforcement, public safety officials, any State employee of the horse racing commission, firefighting services, and any position whose principal responsibility is operating a state vehicle, maintaining a state vehicle, or supervising those who drive or maintain a state vehicle.
Medical Marijuana Use During Work Hours or at the Workplace
In addition to a new law that puts the State’s employment policy in clear contrast with medical marijuana use are restrictions that prevent employees from using medical marijuana while on the job, and certain positions aren’t allowed to use medical marijuana at all.
All employees are prohibited from using (or being under the influence of) medical marijuana in the workplace or during work hours.
The bill also specifically mentions that a positive drug test for cannabis will no longer result in consequences for medical marijuana patients employed by the State.
The passing of this bill shows tremendous progress for the state of Louisiana, since they have not taken many steps otherwise to expand their medical marijuana program. The State has yet to address other issues, such as increasing the number of cultivators or reducing the high costs of medical marijuana for patients, though the new legislation that protects State employees is a definite step in the right direction.
New Bill Should Act as Springboard for Businesses Looking to Hire MMJ Patients
Businesses Are Likely to Follow the State Approach
Most companies have some type of internal drug policy in place, though with changing laws and the landscape of legality shifting in the United States, many policies are likely to change in the near future.
Many companies, such as Amazon have spearheaded the front to revisit antiquated drug policies, publicly announcing that they will be removing their current employee restrictions and drug testing protocols for cannabis.
Louisiana’s decision to incorporate their cannabis policy into law is a concrete way to encourage businesses to do the same. We can predict that many companies will also waive their restrictive policies on employing medical marijuana patients once federal legalization occurs.
Until then, companies operating in states where medical marijuana is being legalized will need to consider how their corporate structure accounts for newly established laws, and HB988 is a blueprint that shows companies how to do just that.
Laws Preventing Companies from Discriminating Against Medical Marijuana Patients
Companies who operate in employment at-will states have the freedom to hire and fire without any specific reason.
There are already laws in place that protect employees against discrimination, and resources for laborers who have experienced consequences as a result of discrimination. However, employers in at-will states can ultimately choose to hire or fire an employee for any reason they like, though not every reason is morally justifiable.
Bills such as HB988 serve to act as a combatant for employers who might be hesitant to hire a candidate due to medical cannabis use, and for employers who terminate an employee for simply exercising their legal right to use medical marijuana.
Although it’s unlikely that we will see specific legislation enacted to protect non-State employees, Louisiana’s passage of HB988 is setting an example for companies to follow and sends the message that employees, or potential employees in Louisiana should not be hindered based on their status as a medical marijuana patient.
And with the rising favor of recreational cannabis among voters, it is possible that cannabis use altogether may be seen as more typical for citizens in Louisiana, which, in turn, may cause companies to address their own drug policies even sooner.
Get Your Louisiana Medical Marijuana Certification
The medical marijuana program in Louisiana offers legal access to cannabis as an alternative natural medicine. You can get your medical marijuana certification by consulting with one of our qualified physicians who will work with you one-on-one to determine your eligibility for medical cannabis in Louisiana.
Getting a medical marijuana card in Louisiana is now easier than ever. Skip the lines and get your medical marijuana certification in Louisiana online today!
For questions about Louisiana’s medical marijuana program, or how to become a medical marijuana patient in Louisiana, consult with one of our trusted doctors and book an online medical marijuana appointment with us today!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
At Louisiana Marijuana Card, our mission is to help patients achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (833) 253-2943, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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