On Jan 1, 2014, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act went into effect in the state of IL. I have found that many business owners are unsure how this Act will impact their business.
Clearly, not just anyone is going to be approved for this program. Individuals must have a debilitating medical condition, such as cancer, MS, HIV-Aids, and have an established relationship with the prescribing doctor. Candidates must undergo a thorough back ground check, receive an ID card and is never allowed to possess more than 2.5 ounces in a 14-day period.
However, there are no provisions requiring employees to inform their employers of their medical marijuana use. Further complicating matters, HIPPA laws obviously protect employee privacy and the Americans with Disabilities Act protect employees using medical marijuana.
So, as an employer, what should you be doing? First, be aware that if your business fulfills government contracts employees are never permitted to use medical marijuana. You could forfeit your contract if an employee—even one with a medical marijuana ID card—fails a drug test.
Next, every business needs to formulate a written drug policy and make sure employees understand the rules, as well as the consequences. Employers can institute a zero tolerance drug policy as long as the policy is instituted in a non-discriminatory manner. For example, you can require all employees to submit to a drug test. But be aware—marijuana can remain in the body for 3-4 weeks.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of questions yet to be answered. How much “accommodation” must employers grant licensed users? Can employers ask if their employees are using medical marijuana? What disciplinary options do employers have if an employee appears “impaired” while at work?
For now, do not refuse to hire, discipline or terminate an employee or applicant with a marijuana ID card BEFORE speaking with an attorney. Remember—there are a lot of gray areas surrounding the Act. You do not want to be the test case.