Laws Proposed To Protect Marijuana Users At Work

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier

I’ve bloggedin the past about ways in which Maryland’s medical cannabis law is unclear or leaves questions unanswered when it comes to employee rights under that law.  So I thought it apropos to blog here about two bills (SB863 and SB864) introduced earlier this year that aim to clarify some of the questions and expand the protections of workers who use marijuana.

Screening for Use of Marijuana or Cannabis (SB863)

This law seeks to prohibit covered employers (i.e., those who employ 15 or more full-time employees) from requiring applicants or employees to disclose their marijuana use. Such employers would also be prohibited from otherwise inquiring into an applicant or employee’s use of marijuana.

The law would not, however, prohibit employers from making inquiries of or taking action against an employee or applicant that the employer is required to take by federal, State, or local law.  Employers would also be permitted to inquire into an applicant or employee’s marijuana use if the applicant or employee used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana on the employer’s premises during the hours of employment.

Employers who provide programs, services, or direct care to minors or vulnerable adults would be exempt from the law.

Discrimination Against Medical Cannabis Patients and Caregivers (SB864)

In contrast to SB863, this law would apply to all employers in Maryland (with exception) and only covers qualified medicalcannabis patients and caregivers.

This law would prohibit employers from discriminating against a qualifying medical marijuana patient or caregiver in the hiring, termination, or imposition of a term or condition of employment.  Employers would also be prohibited from otherwise penalizing (1) qualifying medical marijuana patients or caregivers based on their status as medical marijuana patient or caregiver or (2) a registered qualifying patient based on the individual’s positive drug test for cannabis components or metabolites.

Employers would be permitted to take action against qualifying patients for a positive drug test, however, if these individuals were impaired on the employer’s premises or during the hours of employment.

The law would cover all employers in Maryland but would exempt those whose compliance with the law would cause the employer to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under Federal or State law.

Although these proposed lawsapparently gained little traction, it is important for employers to note the ways that Maryland legislators are working to expand employee rights when it comes to marijuana use, whether such use is medically necessary or not.

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