Florida voters recently turned out to vote for Amendment 2. This Amendment legalizes medicinal marijuana use. What does this mean for employers? Will this new bill mean a change for current workplace policies? Should prescription holders be granted special exceptions by employers? Is it possible employees will be able to sue their employer if they fail a drug test resulting in termination while using medical marijuana? Questions and oppositions will come to light once this law is in place, some will likely require court proceedings to resolve any outstanding issues thoroughly.
What is Amendment 2 -Legalizing Medical Marijuana
- A constitutional amendment that will have an effective date of January 3rd, 2017
- The Florida Department of Health (DOH) will have six months to pass regulations
- The DOH must begin issuing patient/caregiver ID cards
- Florida Department of Health will begin registering dispensaries within nine months of the effective date
With any new amendment; industry standards and enforcement strategies are certain to be established.
- This bill does not contain any language which would affirmatively require you to accommodate medical marijuana use
- Specifically, states that the intent of the amendment is not to provide amnesty under federal law
Marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes is still illegal under federal law. According to the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a schedule 1 drug. This classification makes it just as illegal as any other schedule 1 drug covered by federal law. Currently, prescription holders are not being prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice in states where marijuana can be used legally for medicinal purposes. Technically, marijuana remains an illegal substance under federal law.
The Florida law does not commit to any accommodations for legally registered prescription holders in the workplace. States with similar medical marijuana laws have found that the courts continue to uphold an employer’s right to enforce drug-free workplace policies. The Florida amendment leans heavily towards being business friendly, allowing an organization a measurable amount of discretion in how they may wish to draft their drug-free workplace and substance abuse policies.
Create a plan
Before the effective date of Amendment 2, you and your business may want to take some time to plan how your policies may or may not change after January 3rd, 2017.
- Review your current policies on drug testing, workplace best practices, and stance on substance abuse
- Are you taking a zero tolerance stance? Will you continue this policy or adjust it for medical marijuana prescription holders?
- Does your worker’s compensation require enforcement of a drug-free workplace to remain in compliance? Be sure to check with your provider
- Decide if your policy needs to change and be sure to revise it by January 3rd, 2017
Consider employee safety when making changes to any current policy. The Florida law is clearly employer friendly when it comes to drafting a plan that is consistent with a company’s needs and values.