The Employer's Legal Resource: Reminder: New Medical Marijuana Rules Take Effect Later this Month

08.05.19

As we previously told you in our June newsletter, new changes are coming for employers in the world of medical marijuana. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, commonly called the Unity Bill, takes effect August 30. These legislative changes include additional protections for employers and their ability take action when certain applicants or employees have a positive drug test, even if they are a licensed medical marijuana user.

Under the previous law, employers simply could not take adverse employment action against the holder of a medical marijuana license based solely on the results of a positive drug test for marijuana or its components – no exceptions. Effective at the end of this month, employers may take employment action on the basis of marijuana-positive drug tests for employees in safety sensitive job positions, even if the employee is a medical marijuana license holder.

The law identifies categories of positions which would be considered safety sensitive. However, what positions and job duties are considered safety sensitive is ultimately left up to the discretion of the employer, so long as the employer reasonably believes they "could affect the safety and health of the employee performing the task or others."

The new law also explicitly clarifies that employers are not required to permit or accommodate employees showing up to work under the influence of medical marijuana or consuming/possessing medical marijuana in the workplace or during hours of employment, regardless of whether the employee is in a safety sensitive position.

What employers need to do now is revisit their job descriptions, employee handbooks, and drug testing policies to make sure they are in compliance with the new law and also take full advantage of the benefits and protections allotted to employers under it. As always, the employment law attorneys at Doerner Saunders are available to assist with these and any other employment related needs.

By Rebecca D. Bullard, rbullard@dsda.com

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Justin B. Munn

Justin B. Munn

Justin represents clients throughout Oklahoma in family law, civil litigation, guardianships, adoptions, estate planning, trust and probate matters. 

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