Now that treatment with Medical Marijuana is legal in Minnesota, many employers and employees are wondering how to deal with its use in the workplace. Below are Frequently Asked Questions related to Medical Marijuana and the workplace.
WHAT IS “MEDICAL CANNABIS” (OR “MEDICAL MARIJUANA”) UNDER MINNESOTA LAW?
Under Minnesota Law, “Medical Cannabis” means any cannabis plant (mixture or preparation of it) that is delivered in form of liquid (including oil), pill, vaporized delivery method (liquid or oil), or any other method approved by the Minnesota Department of Health. See Minn. Stat. § 152.22 Subd. 6.
IS SMOKING MARIJUANA CONSIDERED “MEDICAL CANNABIS” UNDER MINNESOTA LAW?
No. The smoking of marijuana is not considered “Medical Cannabis” under the law, thus, still prohibited. See Minn. Stat. § 152.22 Subd. 6(a)(4).
WHO IS ALLOWED TO USE MEDICAL CANNABIS UNDER MINNESOTA LAW?
Patients who are Minnesota residents and have been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition are eligible to be treated with Medical Cannabis. See Minn. Stat. § 152.22 Subd. 9. Patients must be enrolled in the medical cannabis registry program to be allowed to use Medical Cannabis.
WHAT ARE THE QUALIFYING MEDICAL CONDITIONS?
Qualifying medical condition means a diagnosis of any of the following conditions:
- Cancer, if the underlying condition or treatment produces severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, and/or cachexia or severe wasting.
- HIV or AIDS;
- Tourette’s syndrome;
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy;
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis;
- Crohn’s disease;
- Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less than one year, if the illness or its treatment produces severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, and/or cachexia or severe wasting.
See Minn. Stat. § 152.22 Subd. 14.
MAY AN EMPLOYER DISCRIMINATE AN EMPLOYEE BECAUSE HE/SHE IS A PATIENT UNDER THE MEDICAL CANNABIS REGISTRY PROGRAM?
No. Generally, Minnesota Law prohibits discrimination (in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment) against a person who is a patient under the medical cannabis registry program. See Minn. Stat. § 152.32 Subd. 3(c)(1).
UNDER WHICH CIRCUMSTANCES AN EMPLOYEE MAY BE TERMINATED BECAUSE OF USE OF MEDICAL CANNABIS?
A patient who has tested positive for cannabis components on a drug test may be discriminated if the patient used, possessed, or was impaired by medical cannabis on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment. See Minn. Stat. § 152.32 Subd. 3(c)(2).
Also, an employer may terminate or refuse to hire a patient if failure to do so would violate federal law or regulations or cause an employer to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law or regulations. See Minn. Stat. § 152.32 Subd. 3(c).
ONE OF MY EMPLOYEES TESTED POSITIVE FOR CANNABIS COMPONENTS, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Minnesota Law provides that an employee who is required to undergo employer drug testing may present verification of enrollment in the patient registry as part of the employee’s justification for use. Once verification is confirmed, the employer may not discriminate (discharge or discipline) against the employee. See Minn. Stat. § 152.32 Subd. 3(d); Minn. Stat. § 181.953 Subd. 6.
SHOULD OUR COMPANY ALLOW EMPLOYEES TO EXPLAIN WHY THE RESULTS OF A DRUG TEST WERE POSITIVE?
Yes. Minnesota Law requires organizations to adopt a policy to allow applicants or employees to explain a positive result on a drug test. See Minn. Stat. § 181.952 Subd. 1(5).
HOW AN EMPLOYER CAN CONFIRM THAT AN EMPLOYEE IS A PARTICIPANT OF THE MEDICAL CANNABIS PROGRAM?
An employer may request an employee to show the medical cannabis container where the medical cannabis was delivered to the patient. The label of the container should include the patient’s registry identification number, name, date of birth, address, name and address of medical cannabis manufacturer, the chemical composition of medical cannabis, recommended dosage, directions for use, batch number and date of manufacture. Click here for more details on how to recognize authorized medical cannabis products.
ARE PATIENTS PROHIBITED TO DO CERTAIN ACTIVITIES WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MEDICAL CANNABIS?
Yes. Minnesota Law does not permit a person to engage in:
- undertaking any task under the influence of medical cannabis that would constitute negligence or professional malpractice;
- possessing or engaging in the use of medical cannabis:
- on a school bus or van;
- on the grounds of any preschool or primary or secondary school;
- in any correctional facility; or
- on the grounds of any child care facility or home day care;
- vaporizing medical cannabis
- on any form of public transportation;
- where the vapor would be inhaled by a nonpatient minor child; or
- in any public place, including any indoor or outdoor area used by or open to the general public or a place of employment; and
- operating, navigating, or being in actual physical control of any motor vehicle, aircraft, train, or motorboat, or working on transportation property, equipment, or facilities while under the influence of medical cannabis.
The law does not prevent the imposition of civil, criminal or other penalties for engaging in these activities. See Minn. Stat. § 152.23.
Author: Eduardo I. Aburto – Law Clerk at JUX