Is Medical Marijuana Use Becoming a Protected Class Under State … – The Legal Intelligencer
Few topics these days are blazing as brightly as the issue of medical marijuana. In April 2016, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Used to treat an enumerated list of “serious medical conditions” including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and cancer, Pennsylvania lawmakers have emphasized the scientific research supporting the improvements made in patients suffering extreme and debilitating symptoms.
Aside from the documented health benefits, and after the state of Colorado raked in a total of $8.76 million in medical marijuana tax revenue in a single year ($200 million total when including tax revenue from the state’s reported $1 billion in recreational marijuana sales), it is easy to see the appeal of Pennsylvania’s relatively new medical marijuana legislation, known as “Act 16 of 2016.” This past Tuesday, June 20, Pennsylvania state Sen. Daylin Leach announced the award of permits to 12 applicants permitting the cultivation and processing of medical marijuana as “a huge day for patients and for the people of Pennsylvania.” After six months, so long as the growers can demonstrate that their facilities are operational, they may proceed to grow medical marijuana. Yes, Pennsylvanians, legalized pot is (finally) here.
The question for employers throughout the commonwealth will be how to draft and implement policies affecting employees who use cannabis for medicinal purposes. In the workplace, states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana are divided into two categories: states where employers have a duty to accommodate and states where the relevant laws are either silent or expressly exempt employers from providing accommodations to medical marijuana users.
Section 2101(b)(2) of Act 16 of 2016 suggests that Pennsylvania falls into the latter category: “Nothing in this act shall require an employer to make any accommodation of the use of medical marijuana on the