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What Is the Employer’s Role in Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Law?

As Pennsylvania moves forward in implementing its Medical Marijuana Program, employers—including physician practices and other health care organizations—may wish to review their policies for employees.

While Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Law legalizes the use of medical marijuana for approved conditions, marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. The differences between Pennsylvania and federal law may make it challenging for employers to develop policies.

Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Law (Act 16 of 2016) is available online and offers some direction for employers. For example, according to the law, "No employer may discharge, threaten, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee regarding an employee's compensation, terms, conditions, location or privileges solely on the basis of such employee's status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana."

However, employers are not required to make any accommodations for employees to use medical marijuana on the premises of the place of employment. The law says that an employer is not limited in their ability "to discipline an employee for being under the influence of medical marijuana in the workplace or for working while under the influence of medical marijuana when the employee's conduct falls below the standard of care normally accepted for that position."

Read about other patient prohibitions outlined in the law, including what constitutes being "under the influence" under the law.

A recent blog post published by the national law firm Steptoe & Johnson recommends that employers review their policies regarding drugs, paying particular attention to any zero tolerance policies, to ensure that they are in compliance with Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Law. Employers are also advised to clearly communicate their policies to employees and ensure fair enforcement. Read the blog.

Ultimately, Pennsylvania employers should consider consulting with their legal counsel regarding their policies.

PAMED Resources on Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Law

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) offers a suite of Quick Consult publications that can help answer physician and patient questions about the state's Medical Marijuana Law:

PAMED members with questions can also call our Knowledge Center at 855-PAMED4U (855-726-3348).

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