Ask the BPHR Advisor: The Medical Cannabis Act

Ask the BPHR Advisor: The Medical Cannabis Act 600 409 Balance Point Team

BPHR’s Director Lisa Salcido, SPHR, SHRM-SCP provides answers to your pressing HR questions.

Question: I’ve been hearing a lot about the Medical Cannabis Act. What is it and will it affect our drug screen process? 

Answer: On July 2, 2019, Governor Murphy signed legislation to add new job protections and drug testing procedures for users of medical cannabis and renamed the program the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act (CUMCA).

The CUMCA does not prohibit drug testing, but it creates new procedures that must be followed when an employee or applicant has tested positive for marijuana, which are:

  • Provide the employee or applicant written notice of the positive test result.
  • Allow the employee or applicant the opportunity to provide a “legitimate medical explanation for the positive test result.”
  • The employee or applicant will have three working days to provide information regarding the positive test result. The explanation may include a doctor’s authorization or legitimate medical reason to use medical cannabis.
  • The employee or applicant may also request retesting.

The CUMCA prohibits an employer from taking any adverse employment action against a medical marijuana user if that adverse employment action is “based solely on the employee’s status” as a medical marijuana patient.

An “adverse employment action” is defined as “refusing to hire or employ an individual, barring or discharging an individual from employment, requiring an individual to retire from employment, or discriminating against an individual in compensation or in any terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.”

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), may require employers to accommodate medical marijuana use to treat a disability, even though CUMCA does not expressly require employers to accommodate medical marijuana use. Employers must comply with accommodation obligations already imposed elsewhere (such as under LAD or the Americans with Disabilities Act) for disabled employees and applicants.

Satisfy Compliance, Focus on Strategy

This new law is causing many organizations to re-examine their drug testing procedures and “drug and alcohol” policies. The BPHR team can work with you to implement the appropriate policies, posters, and procedures to ensure compliance. Schedule your free phone consultation today to learn more.

Have a question for Lisa? Email her directly.

DISCLAIMER: The material presented on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion. 

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