Medical Marijuana in Florida – How does this Affect Employees?
January 3rd, 2017 is the date in which Florida became the 26th state to legalize marijuana for medicinal use. Although it will likely be months before the first wave of patients has access to the drug, it has many employers and potential patients searching for answers on its effects on employment.
Federal Employees and Contractors
If you are a federal employee or federal contractor, the answer is simple. Under federal regulations, the drug is still illegal, and any employee or contractor of the federal government is prohibited from utilizing the medication, even if they reside or are employed in a state where medical or recreational use is legal.
Florida State Employees and Contractors
The State of Florida has not yet released any proposed plan or policy regarding the medicinal use of marijuana by their employees and contractors.
Private Employees and Independent Contractors
It is unclear how much legal protection employees will have under the new Florida law. The language of the statute seems intentionally vague regarding patient protections and discrimination in the workplace regarding the on-going use of medicinal marijuana. Marijuana is still deemed illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The new Florida law does mention that employers do not have to make accommodations for “on-site use of medical marijuana.” Meaning that even if employers give exemption to legal users of the drug, they do not have to allow smoking, ingesting, or “vaping” of the drug on their premises.
Other States’ Approach
Since no Floridian has had any legal standing to challenge an employee’s right to treat their disability or illness with medicinal marijuana, the Florida Supreme Court has yet to rule on this matter. However, several other state courts, including Oregon, Colorado, and New Mexico, have ruled that employers are not required to provide accommodations for a substance, being used medicinally or otherwise, that remains illegal under federal law.
Massey & Duffy, PLLC, is a civil law firm dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of employees in the Gainesville, Ocala, and Lake City communities. Attorneys of Massey & Duffy have represented hundreds of clients in employment-related cases such as FLSA, FLMA, Unpaid Overtime, Unpaid Wages, Employment Discrimination, and the Fair Credit and Reporting Act. For a Free Consultation regarding your unique employment situation, please call our office at (352) 505-8900 or submit a contact request here.