The Possible Impact of Medical Marijuana Laws on Your Business

medical marijuana, Illinois law, Naperville Business AttorneyAfter more than a year and a half of delays, the Illinois medical marijuana pilot program is just about to get fully underway. Cultivation centers have announced that the harvesting of legally-grown marijuana plants has begun, and licensed dispensaries are expected to have products available within a few weeks. As a business owner and employer, however, you may be unsure how the legalization of medical marijuana may affect your company’s drug policy as it relates to your employees. In my practice, I have already been asked about the program by many different clients, and I encourage you to work closely with an Illinois business attorney to ensure you are prepared to meet the coming challenges.

Discrimination is Prohibited

The law that created the medical marijuana program in Illinois is called the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.  The Act itself makes reference to the rights of employers regarding the institution of workplace drug policies and the use of medical marijuana by employees. An employer cannot refuse employment to a person based solely on his or her status as a registered, qualifying patient. The employer, however, is not required to allow the use of marijuana on his or her premises. As an employer, you cannot be penalized or denied any benefit by the state for employing registered patients.

Workplace Policies Regarding Medical Marijuana 

One of the biggest concerns that many employers have expressed is in regard to their freedom to maintain a completely drug-free workplace. According to the law, you, as the owner, have not lost that right. You may continue to enforce a drug-free workplace and zero-tolerance drug testing policy, as long the policy is applied in a manner that is not discriminatory. If the policy is applied evenly among all of your employees, your ability to take disciplinary action against a worker for violating your drug policy cannot be limited by the law, even if that employee is a registered, qualifying medical marijuana patient.

Some employers may elect to allow the reasonable use of medicinal marijuana in the workplace and it is considered their right to do so. It is important to realize, though, if you realize that one of your employees may be impaired due to marijuana use—legal or not—you may be held liable for injuries or losses that are caused as a result.

Uncharted Waters

While case law in other states have set some degree of precedent regarding workplace drug policies and medical marijuana, other states are not Illinois. The medical marijuana laws enacted in Illinois have yet to be really tested in court as the pilot program has barely begun, but that does not mean you should not prepare now. Contact an experienced Naperville business attorney for help developing a drug policy for your company that protects your investment without compromising the rights of your employees. Call 630-756-1160 today to schedule an appointment at the Gierach Law Firm.


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