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New Jersey extends job protections to medical marijuana users

So far, 33 states have enacted medical marijuana laws, including New Jersey. There’s another growing list as well: states that afford some job protections to workers and job applicants who use medical marijuana – and New Jersey is among those states.

At the beginning of July, New Jersey joined New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Minnesota, Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and Oklahoma extending certain protections to those employees and applicants.

Governor Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act into law on July 2, expanding the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. You’ll undoubtedly recall that the law was put into place to decriminalize medical marijuana. It expressly excluded job protections, stating that “nothing” in the statute required employers “to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace.”

But times have changed. An appeals court earlier this year said that employers could still be obligated to provide reasonable accommodations to workers who use medical marijuana. In the case, a worker was fired after testing positive for marijuana use (medical marijuana used to treat pain caused by his cancer treatments). The court decided that he could sue his former employer for disability discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination because the company had failed to accommodate his medical marijuana use on his own time.

Under the newly amended Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, workers and job applicants who use medical marijuana away from work and during their off-hours are now protected from discrimination.

Many employers will need to adjust internal employment policies to ensure that they run into litigation. Talk to a Morristown employment law attorney about changes that might be needed in policy, drug screenings, contracts and other areas of your business.

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