Medicinal marijuana effects on the workplace

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The push to legalize medicinal marijuana in Florida is gaining momentum. A bill legalizing Charlotte's Web, a Strain of cannabis supporters say could help those suffering from seizures-cleared the Florida House.

In November, Florida voters will be able to decide to give medical marijuana the green light or not. How would it affect the workplace if it were approved?

Employment attorney, Eric Holshouser with Fowler White Boggs says the word "messy" sums things up.

"I think it opens up a real can of worms in terms of law enforcement and employers enforcing policies in the workplace," said Holshouser.

Many workplaces require drug screenings and some random test. Holshouser says the problem employers will face is proving a worker was, in fact, under the influence while on the job.

"The metabolites in marijuana can stay in the system for weeks," said Holshouser. "So when you test someone for marijuana it doesn't necessarily indicate whether or not they are currently under the influence."

Holshouser advises an employee to notify the testing laboratory of a legal prescription that way if they test positive it may not necessarily show up as a positive test. For safety sensitive jobs such as construction and working with heavy equipment, Holshouser says employers can be stricter in terms of testing.

"There is some body of evidence that marijuana use even if someone is not immediately under the influence that it can slow reaction times," said Holshouser. "My advice to an employer would be to be safe in terms of employee safety first and worry about any sort of discrimination claim second."

Covering medical marijuana for employee health care plans would be up to insurance companies.

March 11 at 10 p.m. on CNN Dr. Sanjay Gupta has special report on the effects of medical marijuana called "Weed 2: Cannabis Madness." Also, at 12 p.m. he'll be answering your questions on Reddit.


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