Study: Medical Marijuana Laws Associated With Fewer Workplace Fatalities

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Study: Medical Marijuana Laws Associated With Fewer Workplace Fatalities | NORML

BOZEMAN, MT — Medical cannabis access programs are associated with year-over-year declines in fatal workplace accidents, according to data published online ahead of print in The International Journal of Drug Policy. Investigators with Montana State University, Colorado State University, and American University in Washington, DC assessed the relationship between the enactment of medical cannabis laws and workplace accidents […]

Study: Medical Marijuana Laws Associated With Fewer Workplace Fatalities | The Daily Chronic

The Daily Chronic

Court: Marijuana’s Schedule I Status Does Not Justify Workplace Discrimination Against State-Qualified Patients

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Court: Marijuana’s Schedule I Status Does Not Justify Workplace Discrimination Against State-Qualified Patients | NORML

HARTFORD, CT — A federal district court judge has determined that marijuana’s illicit status under federal law does not preempt statewide protections explicitly prohibiting qualified medical cannabis patients from facing discrimination in the workplace. The defendant in the case, Bride Brook Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, argued that marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug under the US Controlled […]

Court: Marijuana’s Schedule I Status Does Not Justify Workplace Discrimination Against State-Qualified Patients | The Daily Chronic

The Daily Chronic

Legislation Expands Definition of Workplace Disabilities

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Many employers encounter a big surprise when confronting a law that dramatically expands the number of people protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The legislation, called the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), broadly defines a disability to include physical or mental impairments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches and other conditions which can be mitigated through medication.  Under the ADAAA, all impairments (even if corrected with medication or other devices) are covered and protected under the ADA. The only exception is for imperfect eyesight that can be corrected with eyeglasses or other lenses.

While the ADAAA is viewed as good for employees struggling with disabilities, it’s also viewed as a challenge for employers.

The ADA covers all private employers, state and local governments and education institutions that employ 15 or more people — prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities who are qualified for a job.

Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for all qualified individuals with a disability unless doing so would cause the employer an undue hardship. Reasonable accommodations may range from granting extended leave or flexible hours to an employee to replacing fluorescent lighting or purchasing ergonomic work stations.

The challenge is determining what is reasonable. Obviously, the larger the employer, the higher the expectations.  To protect themselves, employers should

Review job descriptions to be sure they cover all needed aspects of each specific function. Such descriptions will serve as an employer’s defense should a disability keep an employee from performing the necessary duties required for his or her job.
Respond quickly and proactively if an employee presents with an obvious disability or notifies the employer of a disability. Be careful and diligent to ensure the disability plays no role in hiring, promoting, firing and other employment-related decisions.
Keep updated policy and procedure manuals, especially as they pertain to addressing employees’ requests for accommodations.
Engage in interactive dialogues with employees who request accommodations.
Keep detailed records of accommodations requests, including how each request is handled and the reasons for decisions made.

The law may seem intimidating for employers, but most will be protected by remembering two key points: (1) if an employee with a disability can perform all of his or her essential job functions, employers should do their best to accommodate him or her; and (2) if accommodating an employee would create a substantial hardship that can be measured and quantified, the employer may have grounds for denying the accommodation.

Originally appeared in the River Valley Business Report.

Thomas H. Taylor is an attorney with Johns, Flaherty & Collins, SC, (, a full-service law firm based in La Crosse, Wis. According to the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, Johns, Flaherty & Collins, SC, has more top-rated lawyers than any other La Crosse law firm.

Novus Medical Detox Center Addresses Workplace Implications of Federal Medical Marijuana Ban Ending

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New Port Richey, FL (PRWEB) February 23, 2015

Employers’ policies regarding workplace drug testing and employees’ cannabis use have recently fallen under question since Congress voted to end the federal ban on medical marijuana in December. In light of those questions, Novus Medical Detox Center analyzes the workplace implications of the policy change. The Florida drug detox facility emphasizes that under current law in most states, employers are still allowed to conduct drug testing and make hiring and firing decisions based on the results—regardless of whether a worker has a valid prescription for medical marijuana.

While the provision passed by Congress prohibits federal agents from prosecuting individuals who are buying or selling medical marijuana in accordance with state law, there are no federal restrictions on workplace policies concerning medical marijuana use. An employer’s right to enforce a drug-free workplace policy is left for the individual states to decide. So far, only a few states (including Arizona, Delaware and Minnesota) have statutes that prohibit employers from firing workers for a positive marijuana drug test if the employee holds a valid medical marijuana card; and in states without such prohibitions, the courts have generally ruled in favor of the employer. (1) Furthermore, because the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, it must be treated as a prohibited substance in any workplace that is subject to federal regulations requiring drug testing of safety-sensitive workers or that receives federal funding. (2)

Novus previously analyzed the broader issue of substance abuse among American workers and found that drug use had a negative effect on employee productivity. Several studies have specifically explored the impact of marijuana use among workers and reported similar findings. One study noted that smoking cannabis impairs performance for a period of about four hours and presents an increased risk for injury or accidents when used before work or on the job. (3) Another study examined postal workers who tested positive for marijuana on a pre-employment drug test and found that they had 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries and a 78% increase in absenteeism compared to workers who tested negative for marijuana use. (4)

“Given that marijuana has been shown to have a negative impact on job performance and safety, employers have a legitimate concern regarding its use in the workplace,” said Will Wesch, Director of Admissions for Novus Medical Detox Center. “Businesses still maintain the right to conduct drug testing among workers and job candidates. And while a few states offer protections for people who hold a valid medical marijuana prescription, the majority of states do not. This means employers may terminate employment or rescind job offers for anyone who tests positive for marijuana use, and legal precedent has been on the employers’ side.”

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance means that it has “a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence.” (5) Wesch cautions that this potential for addiction may result in marijuana serving as a gateway to harder drugs: “Many people dismiss marijuana as a ‘soft drug’ and don’t see the harm in using it. But among the patients admitted to Novus for substance abuse treatment and detox, we’ve found that an overwhelming percentage of them started out using marijuana before graduating to cocaine, heroin, opiates or other illicit drugs.”

Wesch advises workers to be aware that marijuana use can jeopardize their employment, health and safety, and urges them to proceed with caution even in states when medical marijuana is legally permitted. For those using cannabis in addition to other prescription medications or illicit drugs, Novus offers customized substance abuse treatment programs that can help individuals overcome dependency and addiction. The Florida drug detox facility features a home-like residential setting, medically supervised care and a personalized treatment program that is designed to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal and contribute to a successful recovery.

For more information on Novus Medical Detox Center and its substance abuse treatment programs, visit

About Novus Medical Detox Center:

Novus Medical Detox Center is a Joint Commission Accredited inpatient medical detox facility that offers safe, effective alcohol and drug treatment programs in a home-like residential setting. Located on 3.25 tree-lined acres in New Port Richey, Fla., Novus is also licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families and is known for minimizing the discomfort of withdrawal from prescription medication, drugs or alcohol by creating a customized detox program for each patient. By incorporating medication, natural supplements and fluid replenishment, Novus tailors the detox process for each patient, putting the dignity and humanity back into drug detoxification. Patients have 24/7 medical supervision, including round-the-clock nursing care and access to a withdrawal specialist, and enjoy comfortable private or shared rooms with a telephone, cable television and high-speed Internet access. Novus’ expansion is tied to their contribution to their industry and their local community, ranking number 48 on the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2014 Fast 50 Awards list of the fastest-growing companies in Tampa Bay, and number 2,936 on the 2014 Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America. For more information, visit

1. Rojas, Jasmin. “Marijuana and the Workplace. What’s an Employer to Do?”; HR and Employment Law News on; January 21, 2015.

2. Becker, Jamie. “The State of Marijuana in the U.S. in 2015”; Lifelines; February 2015.

3. Macdonald, Scott; Wayne Hall; et al. “Testing for Cannabis in the Work-Place: A Review of the Evidence”; Addiction; March 2010.

4. Zwerling, Craig; James Ryan; and Endel John Orav. “The Efficacy of Preemployment Drug Screening for Marijuana and Cocaine in Predicting Employment Outcome”; JAMA; November 28, 1990.

5. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Schedules; no date; accessed February 16, 2015.

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