Employee protection on the private level is a hotly debated topic and an issue that needs to be addressed by the Louisiana legislature. On Thursday, December 15th, the Employment and Medical Marijuana Task Force submitted their recommendations to the Louisiana Legislature for consideration. The group has spent months debating policy concerning private employees who are medical marijuana patients and what their rights on the job should be. More than a dozen were submitted with most of those receiving majority support from the task force.
Troy Prevot, a member of the task force who represents one of the most influential lobby groups at the State Capitol, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), presented most of the opposition to legislating this important issue. “I think we’re going down a path of more confusion,” he stated. Prevot is concerned that legislating protections for employees in Louisiana will make it more difficult for employers to negotiate workplace policies.
In addition to protecting employees who legally consume medical marijuana off the job site, items were also included to protect employers. One of those would allow an employer to impose consequences on workers who use or possess marijuana while on duty.
Also included for consideration by the legislature were the following:
1) An employer cannot discriminate, refuse to hire or impose consequences on employees based solely upon their past or present status as a qualifying medical marijuana patient.
2) Medical marijuana patients may not be deemed impaired based solely on a positive drug test for marijuana.
3) The state of Louisiana will adopt a card program for medical marijuana patients. (This was passed to another committee after a last-minute debate. The recommendation, as approved, calls on the Medical Marijuana Commission to consider adopting a card program for patients.) Louisiana is currently the only state where medical marijuana is legal that does not have a card program.
4) Medical marijuana recommendations from authorized clinicians “shall be considered recommended for a legitimate medical purpose.”
Safety-sensitive jobs, which are jobs that involve some aspect of heightened danger, will likely be excluded from protections or given more detailed requirements that must be met.
Though some of the recommendations are not listed here, the hope of many is that the protections offered to state employees will also be offered to private employees in Louisiana.
The Louisiana Department of Health will present the recommendations to the legislature before the 2023 regular session starts in April.