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Pennsylvania medical marijuana law signed; provides protection in the employment context

Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize the use of medical marijuana when Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill into law on Sunday, April 17. The law will go into effect on Wednesday, May 18, 2016.

Under the law, patients with certain serious medical conditions will be able to access medical marijuana with a physician’s prescription, and will be able to obtain it at approved dispensaries throughout the state.

Notably, the law will also provide protections for medical marijuana users in the employment context. Here is what the new law says regarding employment:

"(1) No employer may discharge, threaten, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee regarding an employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location or privileges solely on the basis of such employee’s status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana.

"(2) Nothing in this act shall require an employer to make any accommodation of the use of medical marijuana on the property or premises of any place of employment. This act shall in no way limit an employer’s ability to discipline an employee for being under the influence of medical marijuana in the workplace or for working while under the influence of medical marijuana when the employee’s conduct falls below the standard of care normally accepted for that position.

"(3) Nothing in this act shall require an employer to commit any act that would put the employer or any person acting on its behalf in violation of federal law."

With the inclusion of this language into the law, employers in Pennsylvania would be well-advised to review their drug-free workplace policies and drug screening practices with the assistance of legal counsel.

For a high-level overview of the issues surrounding medical marijuana and employment drug screening, be sure to read our recently released white paper titled “The Evolving World of Medical Marijuana and Employment Drug Screening.”

The full text of the law can be found here.

Source: The General Assembly of Pennsylvania, 4/12/2016

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