New Jersey has enacted legislation (Assembly Bill 20) that provides employment protections for individuals who use medical marijuana. Assembly Bill 20 is effective immediately.
In 2009, New Jersey enacted the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, which permits the use of medical marijuana for debilitating medical conditions. The law included no express employment protections.
Note: Earlier this year, a state appellate court ruled in the case of Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings that employers may be required to provide reasonable accommodations for medical marijuana use outside of the workplace, during non-working hours under the state's Law Against Discrimination.
Assembly Bill 20:
Under Assembly Bill 20, employers are prohibited from taking any adverse employment action against an employee based solely on their status as a registered medical marijuana patient.
If an employer has a drug testing policy and an applicant or employee tests positive for marijuana, the employer must provide the individual with written notice of their right to present a legitimate medical explanation for the positive test result.
Within three working days of receiving notice from the employer, the individual may submit information to explain the positive test result or may request a retest of the original sample at their own expense. As part of their explanation for the positive test result, the applicant or employee may present an authorization for medical marijuana issued by a health care practitioner, proof of registration with the state, or both.
The law doesn’t:
· Restrict an employer’s ability to prohibit, or take adverse employment action for, the possession or use of intoxicating substances during work hours or on company premises outside of work hours; or
· Require an employer to commit any act that would cause the employer to be in violation of federal law, that would result in a loss of a licensing-related benefit pursuant to federal law, or that would result in the loss of a federal contract or federal funding.
Assembly Bill 20 also amends the law to permit medical marijuana use for any “qualifying medical condition,” which is defined in the law.
New Jersey employers should review policies and practices to ensure compliance with Assembly Bill 20. Supervisors should also be instructed on the company’s rights and responsibilities under the law.
Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.