New Jersey legalized medical marijuana in January 2010. They were the 14th state to legalize cannabis for medicinal use. Now, 33 states allow medical marijuana. Of these 33 states, 19 states provide employment protections for those with medical marijuana prescriptions. One of the states protecting employees’ rights in New Jersey.
As of July 2019, the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act expanded on the protections already in place by the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, providing additional rights to Medical Marijuana users.
However, New Jersey law recognizes employers have rights as well. Unlike other medical issues, employers are not mandated to make many accommodations for medical marijuana use in the workplace. Employee rights are limited.
Read on to learn more about employee rights and employer rights and responsibilities regarding medical marijuana in New Jersey.
How Does New Jersey Law Protect Employees Using Medical Marijuana?
Marijuana is not like other substances, like alcohol. It is traceable in your system for up to 30 days. Therefore, you may not use medicinal marijuana for two weeks. Yet it appears in a drug test. However, people holding medical marijuana cards have every legal right to use it when home.
Therefore, New Jersey law prohibits employers from taking any adverse action against an employee who tests positive for marijuana in a drug test. Furthermore, the employer must provide written notice of a positive result. They must allow the employee to produce a valid reason for the drug test. If an employee can produce a medical marijuana card, the employer may not fire or retaliate against the employee or potential employee.
New Jersey treats the legal use of medicinal cannabis as covered under New Jersey’s disabilities laws. Therefore, people who have a right to use medical cannabis must receive similar treatment to those with any other medical issues.
Please note, to obtain a medical marijuana card in New Jersey, an employee must have one of the following ailments:
- Chronic Pain
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Intractable Skeletal Spasticity
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Opioid Use Disorder
- HIV or AIDS
- Seizure Disorders
- Terminal Illness with less than 12 months to live
- Tourette Syndrome
Should Employers Provide Accommodations for Using Medical Marijuana?
Unlike other covered medical conditions under New Jersey disability laws, the use of medical cannabis is not entitled to any additional accommodations. Employers do not need to provide time to use cannabis during working hours. Employers do not need to provide a space for marijuana smoking on their property.
The law strictly protects an employee’s right to use medical cannabis at home after working hours. Furthermore, the law does not allow employees to come to work high, any more than it would allow employees to come to work drunk or even slightly inebriated. Additionally, employers can prohibit employees from possessing marijuana at work.
Are All Employers Bound by the Protections of Employee Medical Marijuana Laws in New Jersey?
Federal law still prohibits the use of medical cannabis for any reason. Therefore, employers accepting government contracts have a right to terminate employees who test positive for marijuana. Federal law, in these cases, supersedes state law. However, the exception only applies to those working on federal government contracts.
Can Employers Still Drug Screen Employees and Job Applicants?
Marijuana is not the only drug that appears on a drug screening. Therefore, employers have the right to know if their employees are using other, illicit, and illegal drugs. The law does not prevent employers from drug screening employees.
The law does not prohibit employers from screening for marijuana either. Not all employees testing positive for marijuana have a medical right to use it. Therefore, employers still maintain the right to know if employees are breaking the law or engaging in illegal drug use of any kind.
For today, New Jersey allows the use of medical cannabis for qualified patients. Employers must respect the right of employees to choose marijuana as a treatment for their conditions. However, they do not have to allow employees to use the drug while at work.
To learn more about the fine line of the New Jersey medical marijuana laws, contact the HR experts at WorkplaceHCM at 856.334.9711.