HR Updates

How Does The New Medical Marijuana Law Affect Illinois Employers?

Monday, September 23, 2013 11:04

On August 1, 2013, Governor Pat Quinn signed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, legalizing the use of medical marijuana in the State of Illinois, effective January 1, 2014. This law allows individuals with certain medical conditions access to medical marijuana under specific conditions.

While the law states that employers may not penalize a person solely for his/her status as a registered qualifying patient, there are important exceptions that protect employers and the workplace. Three of the most significant include:

  • An employer may refuse to hire or may take disciplinary action, including termination, against a registered user if such action is necessary for the employer to follow applicable federal law or regulation. Many employers are subject to federal regulations, such as those propounded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which prohibit the use of drugs for any reason in the workplace.
  • An employer may enact and enforce a policy concerning drug testing, zero-tolerance, or a drug free workplace, as long as the policy is applied in a non-discriminatory manner.
  • There is no cause of action against an employer who imposes discipline based on a good faith belief that a registered individual used or possessed marijuana on employer premises and/or was impaired while working on the employer’s premises.

As PWA always has advised, the best preventative “medicine” for employers is a comprehensive policy prohibiting drug use in the workplace. Please contact us if you need effective policy development assistance.

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