The number of registered medical marijuana patients in Florida is estimated to be about 300,000. The patients are issued with medical marijuana cards that give them access to MMJ for them to legally to treat some medical conditions. However, these licensed users of medical marijuana in Florida are facing negative consequences at work and in school.
Some of the people who have suffered a setback in their education or career because of medical marijuana include Kaitlin McKeon who enrolled for a nursing program at Nova Southeastern University. The school requires applicants to do a drugs test, and hers came back positive for marijuana. She uses medical marijuana to treat chronic stomach pain. After the failed drugs test, the school dismissed her application which further derailed her career and education.
Another victim is Alan J. McDuffie who worked for the city of Miami. He applied for a permanent position with his department and was required to do a drug test which turned positive for marijuana. The city fired him even after he told them that he is registered for medical marijuana. McDuffie uses marijuana to manage back spasms. Both McKeon and McDuffie have filed suits against their respective institutions. They claim that the institutions discriminated against them for using medical cannabis.
Florida’s statute of medical marijuana gives employers the freedom to implement drug-free policies and the law does not stipulate that employers retain workers using medical marijuana. However, the new legislation that could change all that in Florida is in the House. The bill which was proposed by Boca Raton Rep. Tina Polsky would provide some protection for people using marijuana in schools and workplaces.
Adam Kemper, a Boca Raton employment attorney whose specialization is medical marijuana compliance, said that the timing of the bill is perfect because the number of people using medical marijuana in Florida is increasing.
The bill would prohibit employers from discriminating, firing, downgrading, or taking any other adverse action against an employee who is a registered user of medical pot. However, the bill would not offer protection for people whose jobs are safety-sensitive such firefighters, people operating heavy pieces of machinery, drivers, those handling dangerous materials, carrying weapons, and persons providing care to children or patients.
The new bill stipulates that a person whose drug test is positive must provide a written notice explaining why the tests are positive. They can also submit a doctor’s certification and MMJ cards as proof of legal use. The bill also permits people fired or penalized for using marijuana to file a lawsuit against their employer for compensation and reinstatement.
Kemper also said that if pot usage is hampering with an employee’s job performance, the bill allows employers to take action such as discharge the person from their duties.
The legislation does not address employees’ rights when an employer asks about the medical condition that requires them to use pot. However, federally, if an employee is seeking accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act, they must disclose their medical history and the specific medical condition to the company.
Under any other condition, the employers would be crossing the line if they asked employees personal questions.
According to industry watchers, marijuana industry players like VPR Brands LP (OTCQB: VPRB) and Sugarmade Inc. (OTCQB: SGMD) welcome this proposed law because employees or students will no longer be made to choose between treatment and their jobs or studies.
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