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A urine drug test would be the primary tool for determining if those workers were under the influence of marijuana.The Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition, Pittsburghs firefighter union, and a statewide trial lawyers association opposed the bill and wrote that creating workplace standards must be done carefully to ensure that patients are not deterred from seeking treatment out of fear of reprisal.A wide range of employer groups representing everything from construction businesses to child care centers to restaurants urged lawmakers to pass the bill in an April memo, writing that employers should not be inhibited from maintaining reasonable workplace safety policies to protect their people, customers and the public.More From Spotlight PARare disciplinary case against Pa. doctor offers glimpse into the big business of medical marijuana cardsHow we tracked workplace lawsuits involving Pa.s medical marijuana lawA complete guide to Spotlight PAs investigations of Pennsylvanias flawed medical marijuana programMensch said he later amended the bill to focus on impaired workers in safety-sensitive roles, a change that would make it much more workable.Still, Democrats on the committee raised concerns about how employers would judge impairment. 1. Here are a few examples: Arizona, Minnesota, and Delaware say employers cant punish patients based on a positive drug test for marijuana unless they used, possessed, or were impaired at work or on duty. Employers in general are not opposed to medical marijuana, Alex Halper, director of government affairs for the chamber, told Spotlight PA. They just want to know what the rules are when theyre hiring for safety-sensitive positions.. . Especially if you need to use medical marijuana to manage your condition during the work day. But he told Spotlight PA in July that uncertainty over workplace policies on marijuana limited his options. If you are fired or refused a job because of your status as a medical marijuana patient, in many cases, you can file a lawsuit. In fact, there are more than half a million registered patients and caregivers, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. If an employee tests positive for medical marijuana on a post-accident test, the employer should not terminate without reasonable suspicion unless: (A) the employee has no valid medical card; (B) the prohibition under category (1) above applies and the nanogram level has been met; or (C) the DOT exception I explain below applies. 14, 2022by This excludes testing of employees in positions with federal drug-testing requirements. marijuana card at the time of the positive drug . A Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision could offer clarity, but McCreary said the best way to resolve the issue is for the legislature to tell us what it meant.. foundations and readers like you Depending on how valuable you are to . In lawsuits, medical marijuana patients said they were denied or fired from a variety of jobs: forklift operator, welder, medical assistant, construction worker, emergency medical technician, and customer service representative. Contest the punishment. Its expensive and time-consuming to fight these cases in court and the outcome is uncertain. Its possible, depending on the job, Auerbach says. A positive drug test for any illegal drug or illegally-used prescription drug is grounds for punishment and possibly discharge from the military. (Medical card only, not the long form.) The Pennsylvania Supreme Court also has not issued an opinion that specifically clarifies protections for workers.Businesses dont want to have to guess which positions are appropriate for medical marijuana patients and which ones are off limits, said McCreary, the Pittsburgh attorney who has represented employers in these disputes.They took what was a bright line rule and they completely muddied it up in a way that nobody can really make any sense out of, McCreary said of lawmakers.Fights in courtsIn lawsuits, medical marijuana patients said they were denied or fired from a variety of jobs: forklift operator, welder, medical assistant, construction worker, emergency medical technician, and customer service representative.Workers described how medical marijuana helped them deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and other conditions. Here are a few examples:Arizona, Minnesota, and Delaware say employers cant punish patients based on a positive drug test for marijuana unless they used, possessed, or were impaired at work or on duty.New York employers cant use drug tests as a basis for determining impairment from cannabis and the state bans cannabis drug tests for many employees.New Jerseys acting attorney general sent a memo to law enforcement agencies, telling them state law allows police officers to use cannabis off duty.All of those laws include exceptions if federal laws or rules require drug testing.Sources (in order)Arizona statutesDelaware codeMinnesota statutesNew York State Department of Labor guidanceNew Jersey Office of the Attorney General; New Jersey statutesCalifornia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana LawsIn 2018, Pittsburgh firefighters worked out an agreement with city officials that created specific protections for medical marijuana cardholders who use the drug off duty.When we sat down with city officials to talk about this they said, We dont want firefighters coming to work high, Tim Leech, a firefighter and vice president of the local union, told Spotlight PA. And we said, Well, this is going to be easy because neither do we.Firefighters are still subject to random drug tests, but cardholders arent disciplined if they test positive for marijuana, according to the agreement. Otherwise, she says, there may not be any need to alert the employer, provided you only use marijuana at home, and dont think it will realistically come up while on the job. Spotlight PA relies on funding from Report. To register for the medical marijuana program, you must have a Pennsylvania driver's license or an ID card issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. New Card $199, Renewal $100, Returning Patients $50. I just dont know what our policy is on it and what would happen if I was sent out for a urine, Clark wrote, referring to a drug test and adding that he didnt want anyone to be caught off guard with this.. The U.S. Department of Transportation, for instance, says pilots, school bus drivers, truck drivers, train engineers, ship captains all deemed safety-sensitive employees fall under its drug testing requirements and cant use the drug.Those federal drug testing rules led to problems for Todd Douglas, a medical marijuana patient and Philadelphia Gas Works employee.Gas pipeline operators determine which of their employees are required to complete federally mandated drug testing for pipeline workers. That led the companys president to flag his marijuana use as a public safety issue and issue him an ultimatum: pass a drug test or lose his job.An Allentown company fired a warehouse worker after he tested positive for marijuana use. Thats a fairly common outcome, as many cases Spotlight PA reviewed were withdrawn before a judge ruled on the merits of the case.A spokesperson for Weis and an attorney who represented Longenecker declined to comment for this story.A dispute over federal rulesMarijuana is still illegal at the federal level, which can create additional complications for some industries. (MEC) - also called a DOT medical card - when you meet the DOT physical requirements. The bill passed out of committee on a party-line vote with all Republicans in favor. 3. He pushed back, and a federal oversight agency under the Department of Transportation later ruled in his favor. Ohio Valley Society for Adolescent Medicine. We dont believe vital investigative and public-service journalism should be hidden behind a paywall or only for those who can afford a subscription fee. New York employers cant use drug tests as a basis for determining impairment from cannabis and the state bans cannabis drug tests for many employees. Pennsylvania's prescription assistance programs for older adults, PACE and PACENET, offer low-cost prescription medication to qualified residents, age 65 and older. In February 2021, a Weis Markets distribution center in Northumberland County sent employee Blake Longenecker home for five days after his medical marijuana card fell out of his wallet at work, according to his lawsuit. People in Douglas role should not be required to participate in their federally-mandated drug testing, the agency said. But it also helps me feel better about the fact that I have pain, Douglas told Spotlight PA. Its helped with depression. (Steven M. Falk of The Philadelphia Inquirer)It helps with pain. Its expensive and time-consuming to fight these cases in court and the outcome is uncertain.More From While many of its neighbors are actively striving for easier access to medical marijuana, Pennsylvania is still adamant in confusing its patient community with its contradictory drug testing laws. State Sen. Bob Mensch (R., Montgomery) introduced legislation in June 2021 that would specifically allow employers to place marijuana restrictions on people who work in several newly defined safety-sensitive positions, including anyone performing firefighting duties, dispensing pharmaceuticals, caring for a patient or child, or operating a motor vehicle. by Suzanne Sentman, SPHR on April 13, 2018. The lack of clarity is frustrating for employers too. . And unlike with the ADA and PHRA, there is no employee threshold, so even companies with only a couple of employees are subject to lawsuits if they violate its provisions. Unfortunately, the answer is yes, they can. Enlarge the copy to 5 inches by 7 inches, to ensure that all information is legible. Buy marijuana from cannabis dispensaries in the State of Virginia. Meanwhile, attorneys for JRK Enterprises argued that he would expose the company to legal risks if an accident occurred. Fast and Simple. Clark later found a job at another business. It essentially makes no sense, Pittsburgh attorney John McCreary Jr., who represents employers, told Spotlight PA. Call us at (877) 303-3117, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today! In most states, your employer is required to provide you with a copy of your drug test results, at this time you can challenge these results by way of retest or explanation. The safety question is a complex one. Clark said he asked potential employers if using marijuana would affect his hiring and was told it would.My confidence is still shattered, Clark said in an interview. (Fall 2017 [updated March 2021]) Medical Review Officers (MROs) offer important oversight in the drug testing process by making the final determining if a drug test is ruled positive or negative.The MRO's role is to verify that an individual has a legal explanation, i.e., a prescription, for having a substance in his/her system at the level it shows. Rare disciplinary case against Pa. doctor offers glimpse into the big business of medical marijuana cards, Health officials in Pa. face scrutiny over weak oversight of medical marijuana doctors, A behind-the-scenes look at Spotlight PAs analysis of 1 million medical marijuana certifications, How anxiety came to dominate the big business of medical marijuana cards in Pennsylvania, Pa. Department of Health sues to keep medical marijuana program data secret. Jamie Gullen, JD, supervising attorney with Community Legal Services of Philadelphias employment unit. Urgent Care. When Pennsylvania lawmakers successfully passed a medical marijuana bill in 2016, they set specific blood limits for users working in a few jobs: ones that require people to operate certain chemicals, high-voltage electricity, or any other public utility. I am sorry but as of now, you no longer work for us.Clark later found a job at another business. Some jobs are specifically regulated by state and federal drug testing rules, but most fall into a gray area that leaves the interpretation of the rules up to employers and the courts. Taxpaying medical marijuana cardholders are finding really no safe harbor on the job, which should be guaranteed under existing Pennsylvania law, Todd Eachus, a member of the pro-cannabis legalization group Perfectly Normal, told lawmakers last year. Asked October 5, 2018. PA Local (Weekly): A fresh look at the incredible Pennsylvanias law does not require employers to make any accommodation of the use of medical marijuana on the property or premises of any place of employment. And, whats more, employers are able to discipline you for using medical marijuana in the workplace, or for being under the influence of the drug if your conduct falls below the standard of care normally accepted for your position. We still have the right to earn a living.. But that, Gullen says, is an unsettled area of the law. Auerbach says that filing a claim under the ADA or PHRA mostly depends on whether your employer knows what your disability is not just whether they know youre a medical marijuana patient so it can get complicated. They are being forced to choose between their jobs and their medicine. It improves my mood.. Ordinarily, that law would require an employer to make a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability but because marijuana is federally illegal, Gullen notes, the ADA wouldnt apply. Hed have to quit using marijuana and pass a drug test if he wanted to continue flagging, she explained. We have no billionaire owner or shareholders to consider. To get medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, patients have to register through the medical marijuana registry, be certified by a physician, pay for their medical marijuana ID card, and obtain their medication from approved dispensaries across the state. You need a state issued medical card to purchase medical marijuana from a dispensary in Pennsylvania. Jack Lehr Electric declined to comment for this story, through an attorney. Self-Certification Form (DL-11CD) - download the form here from PennDOT. But there is no similar national standard for drugged driving.In August 2020, Clark sent an email to the owner and president of the company, Shannon Snare, asking about the workplace policy for medical marijuana.I just dont know what our policy is on it and what would happen if I was sent out for a urine, Clark wrote, referring to a drug test and adding that he didnt want anyone to be caught off guard with this.Snare told him she was checking with her attorney and would get back to him.Unfortunately, we cannot allow you to flag for us, Snare wrote the next day.Hed have to quit using marijuana and pass a drug test if he wanted to continue flagging, she explained. You might, however, have a case under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, or the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance at the city level. No. The main provision of the Act as it pertains to use of marijuana by a licensee is 510, (4). Philadelphia Gas Works included Douglas, but he said he primarily works on a computer. But it also helps me feel better about the fact that I have pain, Douglas told Spotlight PA. Its helped with depression. Clark filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas, where the two sides have sparred over federal requirements and safety issues. Federal Drug Laws Although federal drug testing laws are vague and unclear, federal drug laws are not. Mississippi, which legalized medical marijuana last Wednesday after the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act also known as Senate Bill 2095 was signed into law, also has protections that. Currently we've seen DOT physicals charged anywhere between $50 and $300. Christopher Baxter Gas pipeline operators determine which of their employees are required to complete federally mandated drug testing for pipeline workers. For now, attorneys like McCreary in Pittsburgh are keeping an eye on court cases, looking at how judges rule. Pennsylvania law, he said, should offer more protections so medical marijuana patients arent fired.It should be more clear, Moyer told Spotlight PA. A lot of people dont know. Residents of 33 states plus D.C can access medical marijuana. 2022, His former employer sued the unemployment board in Commonwealth Court, arguing that Moyer shouldnt be eligible because he violated the companys drug policy and his marijuana use created a safety risk. The unemployment board later ruled in his favor, saying that the bare test results do not disclose how recently the claimant may have ingested marijuana before reporting to work or that his work performance somehow was impaired on the day of the test., Pennsylvania Department of Health, July Usually clinics are busy and impersonal, but everyone was so nice! Workers described how medical marijuana helped them deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and other conditions. However, when I called Occupational Health (a place that does biometric testing), they said if you present your med card, they will mark your urine test results negative for marijuana, regardless of the actual results. The Longenecker case ended earlier this year later after the two sides privately resolved the lawsuit and asked a judge to dismiss the case. They said he was told he could return to work in a position that would not require him to operate power equipment.. PaulaTexas patient. If you work in the service industry, hospitality, or at a desk job, you are likely to get the laws full protections, but blue collar employees may not be protected from being fired or not hired.. Department of Veterans Affairs Policy on Medical Marijuana A review of more than a dozen state and federal lawsuits by Spotlight PA highlights the laws ambiguity, showing the ramifications faced by legal marijuana users. But with the rapid advancement of legislation at the state level permitting either medical or recreational cannabis use, the legal relationship between cannabis use and employment law has become much more confusing. We've helped many clients navigate that maze and get the compensation they deserve, and we can help you, too. New York State Department of Labor guidance, New Jersey Office of the Attorney General; New Jersey statutes, California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Before a drug test is verified as positive, a medical review officer (MRO) must first ask the individual whether he/she has a legitimate medical reason for testing positive. In court filings, attorneys for the unemployment board disputed both claims and argued there is no credible evidence that Claimants use of medical marijuana created a safety hazard for anyone.. Vague legal safeguards for medical marijuana users in Pennsylvania are forcing patients to choose between their job and a drug they say has changed their life, and leaving skittish employers vulnerable to lawsuits, according to a three-month Spotlight PA investigation.While state law protects workers from being fired or denied a job just for having a doctors permission to use marijuana, those protections become opaque when people actually take the drug regardless of whether they do it in their personal time. Although Pennsylvania's MMP has been around for almost five years now, medical cannabis still has a ways to go. We still have the right to earn a living.Clark filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas, where the two sides have sparred over federal requirements and safety issues.Clarks counsel claimed he never used marijuana on the job, never worked impaired or under the influence, and never consumed marijuana within eight hours of the start of a shift.Meanwhile, attorneys for JRK Enterprises argued that he would expose the company to legal risks if an accident occurred.Employers cannot both be held accountable for maintaining a safe workplace and be unable to discharge employees for marijuana use, they wrote in court filings.In late August, Pennsylvania Superior Court declined to weigh in on the case, and it is continuing in Lancaster Countys court system.Unemployment benefits deniedAfter employees lose their job, they can run into other problems.Robert Moyer was a warehouse worker for Jack Lehr Electric in Lehigh County, earning $16.50 an hour, until February 2020, when he was fired because a drug test came back positive for marijuana use, according to unemployment board records.