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  • Andy Hille posted an article
    Missourians who have their medical marijuana card are offered no official protections for employment see more

    Employers, patients face legal employment challenges

    Originally appeared in Greenway Magazine by Brandon Dunn

    Missourians who have their medical marijuana card are offered no official protections by Article 14 of the Missouri State Constitution, as it pertains to employment, but that doesn’t mean that the state’s employers don’t face challenges as well.

    “(1) Nothing in this section permits a person to: …

      (d) Bring a claim against any employer, former employer, or prospective employer for wrongful discharge, discrimination, or any similar cause of action or remedy, based on the employer, former employer, or prospective employer prohibiting the employee, former employee, or prospective employee from being under the influence of marijuana while at work or disciplining the employee or former employee, up to and including termination from employment, for working or attempting to work while under the influence of marijuana.”

    “The Missouri Constitution provides that state-legalization of medical marijuana does not impact an employer’s right to prohibit employees from being under the influence of medical marijuana at work. The constitution does not specifically address employers who prohibit employees from being a qualified medical marijuana patient regardless of on-the-job impairment,” explains Denise McCracken, Attorney at Dogwood Advisors (MoCannTrade Member), a cannabis law and compliance firm.

    “Under the Missouri Worker’s Compensation statute, section 287.12 which allows employers to reduce the indemnity benefits if the employee has violated the employer’s drug and alcohol policy at the time of the injury,” David Layton, Senior Vice President of Crane Agency (MoCannTrade Platinum Level Member) explains. 

    But what does that mean for employers? McCracken states, “A lot of employment law protections for employers comes from putting things in writing and giving appropriate notice to your employees. The way that you do that is with contracts, employee handbooks, or you may have specific consent forms for employees to sign covering for particularly sensitive policies, like drug and alcohol testing, that include the consequences of a positive test result.”

    Layton echoed that advice, ”The employer has the responsibility of having such a policy in place and proving that the policy was communicated to the employee prior to the loss,” Layton continues, “The latter can be handled through a signature acknowledging receipt by the employee.”

    In a state where medicinal marijuana is legal with a certification and license what problems does this present?

    Layton explains, “The challenge is that an individual can test positive for marijuana after any impairment has worn off. By comparison, alcohol is processed and eliminated within a day of consumption,” leaving employers in a difficult position.

    For employees that means that depending on their employer’s policies they could find themselves in undesirable circumstances, even as legal licensed-patient.

    “Employees will need to be aware of the current law and realize that using medical marijuana can both lead to a diminished Workers’ Compensation benefit or even lead to termination based on the employer’s established drug policy,” Layton concludes.

    For employers in Missouri’s cannabis industry, the legality of medical marijuana use creates another perplexing dichotomy. How does an employer best protect themselves and their employees?

    We know, and understand, that a larger-than-average percentage of the workforce in a medical marijuana facility will be made up of medically certified patients, and while most licensed facilities promote and encourage legal patient use, this creates a catch-22 as it pertains to drug testing for hiring and worker’s compensation. 

    Even if a company creates a unique policy that allows for patient use, they may put themselves or their employee at risk if they fail to communicate this policy with their carrier. 

    “Asking permission in something like this is far better than asking forgiveness, knowing your employees didn’t get full benefits because a conversation was never had,” says Crane Agency Broker, Dave James. “(You need to be) having a conversation with your provider – stating, ‘We have a revised and edited drug-free/alcohol-free workplace policy modeled after our medical cannabis industry.” 

    James stresses the importance of that dialogue, “The workers’ compensation carrier will use the employer’s Drug and Alcohol-Free policy to limit their loss, so we need to verify that the insurance carrier is going to live up to what we are providing our employees. You don’t want to be put in a position where your employees feel they can take their medication as necessary, and then they have a claim, and the rug is pulled out from underneath them.”

  • Andy Hille posted an article
    With the results of the 2020 election finalized, one of the clear winners was the cannabis industry, see more

    With the results of the 2020 election finalized, one of the clear winners was the cannabis industry, with every legalization proposal on the ballot passing. Voters in 2020 showed that cannabis legalization has grown in popularity to the point that it is no longer a partisan issue, but the progress seen in legalization at the state level has been accompanied largely by inaction at the federal level. The election of Joe Biden to the presidency and the recent progress of cannabis legislation in the House of Representatives give hope that the gridlock on nationwide cannabis reform may be coming to an end in 2021.

    Expectations for Federal Cannabis Reform in 2021

    Originally posted via BDSA

    With the results of the 2020 election finalized, one of the clear winners was the cannabis industry, with every legalization proposal on the ballot passing. Voters in 2020 showed that cannabis legalization has grown in popularity to the point that it is no longer a partisan issue, but the progress seen in legalization at the state level has been accompanied largely by inaction at the federal level. The election of Joe Biden to the presidency and the recent progress of cannabis legislation in the House of Representatives give hope that the gridlock on nationwide cannabis reform may be coming to an end in 2021.

     

    Unlike many of his Democratic primary opponents, President-elect Joe Biden has not voiced support for full legalization—but the incoming administration does show signs of being much warmer to cannabis reform than that of Donald Trump. While Biden has faced criticism over his record of support for punitive anti-drug laws throughout his career in the U.S. Senate, his campaign emphasized how his views on cannabis policy have come closer in line with those of the majority of Americans who support legalization.

    The former Vice President has said that he will pursue decriminalization, medical legalization, and expungements for those with past cannabis-use convictions. Joe Biden’s election will bring an administration more friendly to the industry, but substantive change to the legal status of cannabis is unlikely without action by Congress. Democrats were able to maintain a majority in the House and with the projected victories in the Jan. 5 Georgia runoffs are on track to have 50 votes in the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris acting as a tie-breaker. These majorities in both houses spell out a path, albeit a narrow one, to cannabis reform legislation. 

    The first bill likely to move forward in 2021 is the MORE (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement) Act, a de-scheduling and social justice-focused bill that passed in the House in early December 2020 but was dead on arrival in the Senate. Though the bill will need to be reintroduced in 2021, the slim Democratic majority in the Senate gives it good odds of passing into law.

    Cannabis reform being included as part of a larger spending bill in 2020 also points to 2021 being a productive year for cannabis reform. In May 2020, the House passed the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion Covid-19 relief package. Partisan differences led the bill to stall out in the Senate, but its passage through the House was significant as the spending package included the SAFE Act, a bill with bipartisan support to allow state-legal cannabis businesses to access much-needed banking services. The SAFE Act was removed from the text of the follow-up bill signed by President Trump on Dec. 27, but with the new makeup of the Senate, it is likely that cannabis reform will be part of the stimulus packages that Congress and the President-elect have stated will be a priority in the first months of 2021.

    One contributing factor to the success of cannabis reform in 2020 is the growing power of cannabis interests in the Capitol. Cannabis lobbying had a breakout year in 2019, with cannabis trade associations and businesses spending more than $5.7 million on federal lobbying that year. While this spending dropped to just over $3 million in 2020, cannabis lobbyists were accompanied by similarly interested beverage industry lobbyists, such as industry giants Anheuser-Busch and Constellation brands, which both disclosed that their lobbyists were working on CBD and cannabis issues in 2020. This new industry influence in Washington could help drive efforts for federal reform, possibly bringing in support from more conservative lawmakers who may be swayed by the economic opportunity cannabis reform offers.

    While legalization advocates do still face an uphill road, the small successes of 2020 and the new political makeup of D.C. suggest that there is great potential for progress to be made in the new year. With a president committed to limited reforms, a Senate that more accurately reflects voters’ desire for legalization, and an invigorated industry more involved in the political progress than ever before, 2021 may be the year that the inaction on federal cannabis reform finally ends.

     

    About BDSA:  BDSA offers a full understanding of the evolving cannabinoids market. Our Retail Sales Tracking, Consumer Insights, and Industry Intelligence, all powered by our industry-leading GreenEdge® platform, work together seamlessly to provide the answers our customers are looking for.