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Lori Berman, Tina Polsky push measure aimed at protecting employees who use medical marijuana

Employees required to undergo drug tests can still be canned for a positive test.

With the 2020 Session right around the corner, a pair of Democratic lawmakers are pushing a measure to protect the employment of those who use medical marijuana.

The “Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act,” along with a separate provision specifically covering public employees, would aim to ensure workers or job applicants are not punished for using the now-legal medicine.

State Sen. Lori Berman of Delray Beach and state Rep. Tina Polsky of Boca Raton are behind the measures (SB 962 and HB 595).

“When the Florida Legislature implemented the medical marijuana amendment, we left unaddressed workplace protections for patients. Employers are still able to enforce a zero-tolerance, drug-free workplace and are not required to make reasonable accommodations for employees who use medical marijuana, now a constitutionally-sanctioned right,” Berman said.

“We must do our part to ensure that their use of safe and effective medicine will not impede their right to work.”

Florida voters approved an amendment legalizing medical marijuana back in 2016. But employees required to undergo drug tests can still be canned for a positive test.

The measures for Berman and Polsky would require an employer to give written notice within five days of a positive drug test result in order to allow the employee to explain the result.

“Right now, there is no guidance for employers as they deal with this new medical marijuana system. This legislation would provide crucial guidelines for employers and protect employees from being discriminated against for their legal use of marijuana,” Polsky said.

“We must guarantee that medical marijuana users are not discriminated against for their legal and rightful use of this treatment. Regular working people deserve these important protections.”

Under the legislation, employees whose performance is affected by the drug can still be fired.

Berman’s bill has been referred to the Governmental Oversight and Accountability, Judiciary and Rules committees in the Senate. Polsky’s measure has been assigned to the House Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee, as well as the Appropriations and State Affairs committees.

Last Session, lawmakers authorized the sale of a smokable form of medical marijuana, thereby expanding the options available to patients. Voters may also have a chance to legalize recreational marijuana via a 2020 ballot amendment.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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