Governor of Virginia Signs Bill Protecting Employees Who Use Medical Cannabis

Weeks after lawmakers in the Commonwealth passed a bill clearing the way for recreational marijuana legalization, Virginia. Gov. Ralph Northam took steps to enshrine employment protections for medical cannabis patients. 

Northam late last week signed a bill into law that “prohibits an employer from discharging, disciplining, or discriminating against an employee for such employee’s lawful use of cannabis oil pursuant to a valid written certification issued by a practitioner for the treatment or to eliminate the symptoms of the employee’s diagnosed condition or disease.”

It will take effect on July 1.

The bill provides plenty of caveats. For starters, the prohibition does not “restrict an employer’s ability to take any adverse employment action for any work impairment caused by the use of cannabis oil or to prohibit possession during work hours.” Nor does the new law “require an employer to commit any act that would cause the employer to be in violation of federal law or that would result in the loss of a federal contract or federal funding” or “require any defense industrial base sector employer or prospective employer to hire or retain any applicant or employee who tests positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in excess of certain amounts.”

Those latter exceptions are particularly

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