3/11/2020

Employment Law-Focused Review of State Cannabis Laws Released

A comprehensive report aims to help employers understand the rights and responsibilities they must consider with cannabis in the workplace

By Eric Gilkey

A comprehensive report from Wilson Elser aims to help employers across all 50 states understand the rights and responsibilities they must consider in the workplace as cannabis legalization efforts take hold across an increasing number of states—and even as the federal Controlled Substances Act remains in place.

The 63-page report, “Cannabis in the Workplace: A Comparative Law Review of Employee Rights and Employer Obligations,” sheds light on four key employment questions raised by cannabis legalization:

  • Does it “impact an employer’s right to engage in pre-employment drug testing”?
  • Will employers have to “accommodate cannabis use for treatment of medical conditions”?
  • Does legalization “provide employees employment protections for off-duty cannabis use”?
  • Will employers or their workers compensation carriers be required to “reimburse cannabis as a treatment for workplace injuries”?

The report notes that 19 states already recognize protections or accommodations for medical cannabis use by employees. They include Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia.

When it comes to workers compensation reimbursement, though, the picture is muddier. The report notes that while workers compensation reimbursement is required in Connecticut, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York, it has been expressly prohibited in Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, and North Dakota, and not required per statute in Arizona, Louisiana, Michigan, Utah, and Vermont. (There is no precedent in the remaining states, except for Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota, where there is no legal cannabis).

To read Wilson Elser’s guide and see what requirements your state mandates, click here.



Eric Gilkey is executive editor of CLM Magazine, a publication of the Claims and Litigation Management (CLM) Alliance. He may be reached at eric.gilkey@TheCLM.org.

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