Connecticut Employers – What Does the New Medical Marijuana Law Mean for You?
Connecticut is poised to become the 17th state to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, although all marijuana use remains illegal under federal law. The measure was passed by the state Senate and is headed for Governor Malloy’s desk. He promises to sign the bill. The law is scheduled to take effect October 1, 2012.
The law makes it illegal to discriminate against an applicant or employee based on that person’s status as a “qualifying patient” or “primary caregiver” under the law. In order to be a qualifying patient, the person must be eighteen years of age or older, be a resident of Connecticut, and have been diagnosed with one of the medical conditions for which marijuana use is permitted. A primary caregiver is someone other than the patient or the patient’s physician who is eighteen years of age or older and undertakes responsibility for managing the qualifying patient’s well-being with respect to the use of medicinal marijuana. Employers may take action against these individuals when required by federal law or required to obtain federal funding.
While discrimination against medical marijuana users and their primary caregivers is prohibited, employers may still prohibit the use of marijuana during work hours and discipline employees who are under the influence of marijuana during work hours.
Employers must also grapple with the issues medical marijuana raises under the Americans with Disabilities Act (e.g., the duty to accommodate) and drug-free workplace policies (e.g., whether to modify the policy to recognize legal use). Connecticut’s new law is silent on these issues. Until more guidance is available, employers will want to take a conservative approach to avoid becoming a test case.
Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest state and federal employment laws. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.965.0560.