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Florida Joins List of Medical Marijuana States

09 Nov 2016

It is not time for employers to set up a smoking room for those employees that want to light up a joint.  Employers will not be required to accommodate smoking marijuana in the workplace. Medical marijuana is legal in Florida so now what? It will likely take six months or more for the Florida Department of Health to enact regulations which will attempt to ensure the availability and safe use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients. 

The availability of medical marijuana will be for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician.  The medical conditions will include: cancer, AIDS, HIV, glaucoma, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis (MS).  Medical marijuana use will also be allowed for additional debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those listed above, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

Once rules are promulgated, the Florida Department of Health will begin issuing ID cards to qualifying patients and caregivers. Parental consent will be required before a minor could be certified by a physician to receive medical marijuana.

Employers will need to make decisions related to medical marijuana.  Will you allow qualifying employees to use marijuana or will you prohibit marijuana in your workplace?  This is an employer decision and a right.  Many employers have drug free workplace programs that will prohibit marijuana use based on Federal or State law. Regardless of the decision an employer makes, a written drug free workplace policy must be implemented or revised to reflect the company position on the use of marijuana in the workplace medical, recreational or otherwise.

Accommodating those with debilitating medical conditions and accepting their use of medical marijuana is certainly an option in a non-regulated employment environments but this decision must be clearly thought out and clearly addressed in your company policy. 

An effective drug free workplace program and clearly defined policy helps to ensure a safe and productive work environment and there is a clear argument that both employers and employees benefit from a drug-free work place.  Also, there are several instances where an employer is required by Federal or State regulation to maintain a drug free workplace including the prohibition of the use of marijuana.

Since medical marijuana is now a reality in Florida and it is essential for business owners, executives and managers to be proactive in addressing the medical marijuana issue.  It is also a good time to review your drug free workplace policy and program to make sure it is up to date and addresses this issue and any other regulatory changes that may have occurred since it was last reviewed.

At National Drug Screening, we regularly assist employers by developing or reviewing drug free workplace policies, setting up drug free workplace programs and testing, and providing guidance about drug testing.   Check out the NDS Blog for answers to your drug testing questions or contact us to discuss your current policy, get information on setting up a program, or for any drug testing or drug free workplace related questions.