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Friday, June 20, 2014

Florida Legalizes Medical "Marijuana" But You Can Still Be Fired For It

Florida's Governor signed a bill legalizing a form of medical "marijuana" called Charlotte's Web this week. The law will go into effect next year. I'm underwhelmed. While it's a bit of a victory for patients covered under this new law (cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms), as is typical with Florida laws there is zero protection for employees.

What this means is that, even though Charlotte's Web is "low THC" and thus non-euphoric, so you won't be impaired when using it, you'll still likely fail any drug test if your employer has mandatory drug testing. Heck, here in the Sunshine State your employer can fire you because they didn't like your shirt that day. They can certainly fire you for using legalized marijuana even if it is for a severe disability and recommended by your doctor.

Arizona, Delaware and Minnesota have all passed specific laws stating that legal users of medical marijuana can't be fired for positive drug tests unless they're actually impaired on employer premises or during working hours. It's a sad day when Arizona has better employee protections than, well, anyone. Yet Florida remains one of the worst states for employees in the nation. We're number one! Yay!

There's also a ballot initiative in November that will let voters choose a much broader medical marijuana law that opens up use to people with even more medical conditions and allows doctors to recommend regular marijuana instead of the wimpy cousin that's the subject of this new law. You'd think the ballot initiative authors would have thought to put something in protecting employees, but no. You can read the full text here, and shockingly absent are any employee protections.

Connecticut, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota and Rhode Island all prohibit workplace discrimination regarding medical marijuana users. I think it's completely irresponsible to pass laws allowing people to use medical marijuana but not protecting their jobs. While Florida's ballot initiative is a start on the road to treating people with disabilities more humanely, we also need to protect their jobs.

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I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.