Gardi, Haught, Fischer & Bhosale LTD.

A Schaumburg Lawyer’s Tips for Employers About the Illinois Medical Marijuana Act

By Gardi, Haught, Fischer & Bhosale LTD
December 23, 2013

Employers should be aware that in January of 2014, the Illinois Medical Marijuana Act, officially named the “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act”, will take effect.  The law authorizes the medicinal use of marijuana under certain specifically defined situations.  Patients suffering from a long list of serious, degenerative illnesses such as cancer, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma, may be qualified and registered for use, and able to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 14 days from a licensed dispensary.

Business owners with employees who are registered, qualified, and entitled to use medical marijuana may have concerns about their rights and responsibilities as employers. They may feel the need for consultation with a criminal lawyer. It is important to know that just as the patient has the right to use medicinal marijuana, employers also have related rights in the workplace.  Schaumburg lawyer Gardi, Haught, Fischer & Bhosale LTD is ready to assist businesses with the challenges that will inevitably arise e when the law goes into effect.  In the meantime, here are some important things for business owners to know:

1. Under the Illinois Medical Marijuana Act, an employer is not required to allow an employee to possess or use medical marijuana while at work.  An employer cannot penalize an employee because they are a registered, qualifying patient, but the law does not prevent a business from restricting or prohibiting the medical use or storage of marijuana on its property.  Also, if a qualified patient employee violates a properly enacted workplace drug policy, employers are not prohibited from disciplining them.

2An employer is not required to allow an employee to work if the employer believes, in good faith, that the employee is impaired by the use of marijuana or has used marijuana during that employee’s designated work hours.  The Illinois Medical Marijuana law states that “an employer may consider a registered qualifying patient to be impaired when he or she manifests specific, articulable symptoms while working that decrease or lessen his or her performance of the duties or tasks of the employee’s job”.  These include changes in speech, dexterity, and agility and carelessness in operating equipment or machinery and disregard for the safety of the employee or others. The consult of a criminal lawyer may be helpful in applying this law.

3.  Qualified, using employees who test positive on a drug test may not be disciplined in the same manner as those who are not registered users.  However, employers are not prohibited from enforcing a policy concerning drug testing, zero-tolerance, or a drug-free workplace provided the policy is applied in a nondiscriminatory manner.

4. When hiring, an employer cannot discriminate against an applicant who tests positive on a pre-employment drug screen if the applicant is a registered user.  However, an employer may discipline or refuse to hire a registered user for failing a drug test if they risk losing a federal contract or funding.  Also, health insurers are not required to reimburse a person for the costs of medicinal marijuana.

Soon, employers will be required to know the specifics of the Illinois Medical Marijuana Act and how to apply it to their everyday business. If you need help interpreting the medical marijuana law for a situation involving a qualified, using employee in the workplace, the Schaumburg lawyer Gardi, Haught, Fischer & Bhosale LTD can help.  Please contact us today.

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