Medical marijuana has been available in Louisiana since 2015 for patients with certain medical conditions including cancer, seizure disorders, epilepsy, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease. Effective August 1, doctors will be able to recommend medical marijuana for any condition that a doctor “considers debilitating to an individual patient.” The new law also removes the requirement for doctors to register with and receive authorization from the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners to recommend medical marijuana for patients.
What does this mean for the workplace?
- Employers may still legally drug test employees.
- Employees are still not permitted to use medical marijuana at work or to be impaired at work.
- Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 Drug under federal law.
- Medical marijuana use is not protected by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) although the health condition for which it was prescribed may be covered by the ADA.
- Currently Workers’ Compensation Insurance does not provide coverage for workplace injuries experienced by an employee who tests positive for marijuana even if it was legally prescribed.
Employers should be reviewing and updating their substance abuse policies and drug-testing programs:
- Legally, pre-employment drug tests may only be conducted after a job offer has been made and accepted.
- Employers should post “drug-free workplace” and “we drug test” notices at building entrances used by applicants and employees.
- Substance abuse policies should require employees to provide notice BEFORE drug testing of any medications (medical marijuana, prescription or over-the-counter) which may create impairment on the job.
- Employees should be required to sign the substance abuse policy when hired and annually thereafter.
- “Random” drug testing should really be random, meaning that it includes all types of employees and management.
- Drug-testing for work-related accidents and injuries is required by Workers’ Comp insurance. If an employee tests positive for “medical marijuana” and has not provided prior notice of use, then the employee may be terminated from the job.
- Drug-testing for “cause” is still permitted, however suspected impairment should be documented carefully.
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