In the 2015 Georgia legislative session, the use of cannabis oil was legalized for medical purposes in the state. (See the Atlanta Journal Constitution article.) Georgia’s new law allows cannabis oil – and oil only – to be used to treat eight medical conditions: cancer, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, mitochondrial disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, seizure disorders and sickle cell disease. People may possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil with a physician’s signed approval.
What does this mean for you as an employer? If the medical marijuana user has a physician’s authorization, that person cannot be prosecuted under state laws for crimes relating to the use, possession or cultivation of a certain amount of marijuana. However, federal drug laws still apply. If a person tests positively for marijuana in a pre-employment drug screening, you may have the right to refuse to hire them. The California Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s medical marijuana law applies only to criminal prosecution and not the workplace. Additionally, the Oregon Supreme Court found against the employee in a medical marijuana case, but didn’t conclude whether an employee who is prescribed marijuana for a disability is entitled to an accommodation for their drug use.
Currently, 24 states allow for medical marijuana use. As that number continues to grow and the laws are tested, we should see more clarifications of the law, perhaps on the federal level as well. The best thing you can do now is to have a solid policy in place that clearly establishes your position on marijuana usage both in and out of the workplace. Your policy must comply with state and local laws.
Test your knowledge of medical marijuana laws with this quiz. If you’d like help understanding Georgia’s new law or creating a policy around the use of medical marijuana, please call us at 678-208-2802.