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Medical Marijuana In The Workplace – Update For New Jersey Employers

By on Jun 5, 2019 in Human Resources | 0 comments

Medical Marijuana In The Workplace – Update for New Jersey Employers By Maggie Johnson     Recreational marijuana use is not yet legalized in New Jersey or New York despite recent attempts by each state’s legislators to do so. However, recreational marijuana use, if legalized, would not necessarily present a problem for employers. As a comparison, alcohol is legal, but employers have the right to prohibit its consumption during working hours and in the workplace. Surely, the same rule would apply to recreational marijuana. But what about medical marijuana? The New Jersey Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act (“CUMMA”) authorizes patients and their primary caregivers who register with the New Jersey Department of Health to possess medical marijuana that has been dispensed by a New Jersey Alternate Treatment Center. Thus, employers may be concerned about employees’ usage of marijuana, prescribed by a physician, for medical purposes. If an employee has a prescription for medical marijuana and tests positive on the Company’s random drug test, for example, is that test result excused because the employee has a legal prescription for the drug? Would an employer be expected to provide a “reasonable accommodation” for the use of medical marijuana for an employee with a disability? The first thing to remember is that CUMMA is a state law. Under federal law, marijuana is still illegal. So let’s turn to a case from August 2018 for some guidance. In Cotto v Ardagh Glass Packing, Inc., et al, Mr. Cotto, an Ardagh Glass Packing employee was a forklift operator for the company. Mr. Cotto was injured on the job and took a medical leave of absence to recover. Mr. Cotto was prescribed and used medical marijuana for pain management for injuries he suffered several years ago (not associated with his on-the-job injury). When Mr. Cotto was ready to return to work after his medical leave of absence he was required to pass a drug test before he could recommence his job duties. Mr. Cotto could not pass that drug test because of his medical marijuana usage. Mr. Cotto produced his medical marijuana card and his prescription from his physician. Despite that Mr. Cotto used marijuana legally for his medical condition, his employer would not...

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