Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act aims to protect Florida workers

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Florida voters approved an amendment legalizing marijuana in 2016, but employees and job applicants who are required to take drug tests can still be fired if the results are positive. A new bill in the Florida House aims to change this, by protecting licensed medical marijuana patients.

Two Democratic lawmakers, state Sen. Lori Berman of Delray Beach and state Rep. Tina Polsky of Boca Raton, filed the Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act (SB 962 and HB 595) ahead of Florida's 2020 legislative session, which begins Tuesday.

The purpose of the legislation is to protect employees and job applicants from punishment for using medical marijuana, unless their job includes safety-sensitive job duties.



"We must do our part to ensure that their use of safe and effective medicine will not impede their right to work," Berman stated in a press release regarding the Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act.
The measures would require the employer to provide written notice within five days of a positive test result to give employees and job applicants a chance to explain their results. According to Berman, employers would still be able to enforce a zero-tolerance, drug-free workplace, as the legislation allows for termination of employees whose performance and safety are affected by the drug.

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

Voters probably won't be able to legalize recreational marijuana on the 2020 ballot, as recent campaigns have gathered fewer petitions than are needed to be considered for approval by the Florida Supreme Court.

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