The Employer’s Workplace Marijuana Update

The legal marijuana industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years.  Over 30 states have approved the use of marijuana products for medicinal purposes, and 11 states have approved cannabis for recreational adult use, along with Washington, DC.  Colorado recently announced that it has exceeded $1 billion in cannabis sales since recreational cannabis was legalized, and the state has never dipped below $20,000,000 a month in cannabis revenue since 2017.  While the drug is still listed as a Schedule 1 drug by the DEA, it seems clear that legalized cannabis is only becoming more popular.

In Nevada, the state has not only legalized recreational marijuana, but recently passed legislation that makes it illegal for an employer to refuse to hire an applicant based on a positive drug test for marijuana.  The law is the first of its kind, and only exempts those who employ EMTs, firefighters, and those who must drive a vehicle.   It goes above and beyond all other state laws where marijuana is legal in one way or another. 

The law even exceeds the protections afforded employees enrolled in the medical cannabis program in Minnesota.  If you don’t recall, Minnesota protects those enrolled in its medical cannabis program from discrimination on the basis of a positive drug test.  Only in rare instances where federal law prevents an employee from being “under the influence” of marijuana or it would cause an employer to lose federal funding can an employer take negative action against an employee enrolled in Minnesota’s medical cannabis registry. 

While on the subject of Minnesota, the number of Minnesotans enrolled in the registry program increased by over 6,000 between March 31, 2018 and March 31, 2019, bringing the total number of enrollees to 15,687.  March of 2018 also set a record for purchases of medical cannabis products at 12,000.  The number of medical conditions for which one may enroll in the medical cannabis registry has risen to 13.  As of August 1, 2019, Alzheimer’s disease will be added to the list. 

Finally, staying in Minnesota, employers should not be confident that it is only medical cannabis with which they will have to contend.  In March, the first committee vote took place on the subject of recreational marijuana, with the proposal being defeated on a strictly party-line vote of 6-3.  That may seem like a landslide victory for those against the legalization of the drug, but with a pro-legalization governor in office, and another election taking place in a little over a year, one can imagine the changes on the horizon for the state, its citizens, and its employers. 

If you or your organization need assistance keeping up with the ever-changing drug laws and their impact on your operation, contact the Wiley Law Office, for advice that works. 

This article was brought to you by the reigning champion of the 2019 Wiley Law Office Open golf tournament, Ben Reber