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The trend for drug legalization continues; safety advocates are cautious



Election day saw a new wave of marijuana legalization, with voters in four states joining the 11 states that had already approved recreational marijuana and voters in two states approving medical marijuana.

While Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota now allow recreational marijuana, voters in South Dakota also approved medical marijuana, as did voters in Mississippi. mental health conditions and Washington, DC, decriminalize its possession or use. Oregon voters also turned possession of small amounts of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and other drugs into a $ 100 fine, but no jail time. increases. Quest Diagnostics Inc. released its annual assessment in August and found that the proportion of positive drug tests for marijuana among workers increased by 1

1% in almost all categories of employee tests in 2019 to the highest proportion in 16 years.

"Regardless of the legality of the substance – this also applies to alcohol – some form of substance use, alcohol or heroin, if it worsens it is a threat to workplace safety," said Rachael Cooper, Madison, Wisconsin-based senior drug abuse program manager for National Security Council. “Employers have the right to maintain a substance-free workplace. Period. "

" Our complete recommendation to employers in all states, no matter what legal entity you are, you must work with them to update drug-free workplace policies, "Cooper said. "States will build programs as we go, so it will be important to consult with legal."

Jennifer Mora, a San Francisco-based senior adviser in work and employment practice at Seyfarth Shaw LLP, says employers can no longer rely on comprehensive drug-free workplace policies.

"The election this time, with so many states with leisure activities, is sending a message to employers: They need to start taking notes and being aware of what their policies are," she said. “You see all kinds of policies; some say we are a drug-free workplace and we want everyone to be safe, and that is very generic, and others become specific to government nuances in drug testing. "

While" everyone's policies will be different "the latter is where an employer wants to be, Mora said, adding that when it comes to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, medical marijuana laws complicate the problem.

"With the spread of these laws … as employment lawyers We need to work with housing experts, who can look at the discrimination laws for disability, she says.

The courts have not been one-sided about whether a worker can be fired for a positive drug test that Derived from state-authorized medical marijuana: At least one court decision, in Massachusetts, found that workers are protected by the federal ADA, while decisions in other states – Washington, Montana and California – say there is no protection for a drug that remains illegal at the federal level. [19659002] At least one medical marijuana state is trying to clear up the confusion: Pennsylvania lawmakers earlier this month introduced SB 1360, a bill that says an employer can make a negative employment decision against an employee "if the employee's use of medical marijuana reduces or decreases the employee's work performance or ability to perform the employee's work information, and the employer shall not violate “Of the State Marijuana Act.

Those in the work compensation industry also support more change, as the green wave of marijuana legalization continues despite the federal controlled substance law, which classifies marijuana as illegal, with no medical value, similar to cocaine and heroin.

An important question on the treatment side is: Will the payers be on the hook for medical marijuana? According to the courts, it is a mixed bag. Some states – New Jersey and New Mexico – have said yes. Others – Maine and Massachusetts – have said no.

Taking the issue further, New Mexico 2018 put medical marijuana on the fee schedule and New Jersey lawmakers in October filed a bill – A.B. 1708 – It would require insurers to cover the cost of medical marijuana.

"When you look at what has already happened and the calls around the country, there are a large number of (work-compensated) payers who compensate voluntarily or openly, without any government mandate requiring them to do so," says Mark. Pew, Atlanta-based senior vice president of product development and marketing for Pharmaceutical Benefits Manager Preferred Medical, who has tracked marijuana growth in the comp.

Mr. Pew said that compensation payers find anecdotally that medical marijuana has replaced other drugs prescribed under professional competence for such problems as pain, and goes from case to case if they will replace. Catalog

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