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Bill aims to clarify medical marijuana act

Posted On: Nov. 2, 2020 1:33 PM CST

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Addressing workplace safety and workers compensation, lawmakers in Pennsylvania on Friday introduced a bill that would clarify an employer’s responsibility and rights regarding the state’s four-year-old medical marijuana law.


In addition to not requiring insurers to cover or reimburse for medical marijuana for injured workers, S.B. 1360 adds language to the state’s 2016 law that would clarify that an employer could fire a worker who is found to be intoxicated on the job and would be permitted to not hire someone who fails a marijuana drug test.


Safety sensitive positions are also defied in the bill as a that which “requires any activity that an employer reasonably believes presents a potential risk of harm to the health or safety of an employee or others while under the influence of medical marijuana.” The list includes those working at heights or confined spaces, those working with health care patients or children, those who carry firearms, those operating or maintaining equipment or vehicles, and those operating or maintaining “critical services and infrastructure.” Firefighters and anyone dispensing pharmaceuticals would also be considered working in safety sensitive positions.


A draft of the bill also states that an “employer may make an adverse employment decision against an employee if the employee’s use of medical marijuana decreases or lessens the employee’s job performance or ability to perform the employee’s job duties, and the employer shall not be in violation” of the state’s marijuana law.


Additionally, the bill states that “(a)n employer’s good faith determination that an employee is under the influence of marijuana” could be “based on observable physical behavior or characteristics, provided that the employee may rebut the determination by immediately submitting to a drug test, the results of which demonstrate” a state-mandated, specific level of marijuana in the employee’s urine.


The bill also states that if an employee is “under the influence at the time of an otherwise work-related injury and is not certified to use medical marijuana in accordance with (the state’s existing medical marijuana act), the injury shall not be covered” by workers compensation.


Sponsored by nine Republicans, the bill was referred to the Health and Human Services committee.