Business owners have many restrictions and rules that they need to understand and follow. These rules run from ensuring their business is in compliance with federal regulations regarding accessibility for customers who are handicapped to safety and cleanliness regulations for serving food. As the use of medical marijuana grows and the role of marijuana changes in our state, it is important that employers also reach for an understanding of how the laws surrounding medical marijuana interacts with their responsibilities.
Drug testing is usually the first issue for most employers when it comes to medical marijuana. As an employer, you first need to understand the broader rules surrounding drug tests. Employers do not have an absolute right to drug test their employees at any point in time for no reason. Minnesota’s Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act dictates the procedures necessary to drug test an employee. Unless an employer is conducting federally mandated drug testing, they are covered by the DATWA. The law provides that the employer must have a written policy before being allowed to drug test, and this written policy must contain very specific provisions, such as who is subject to drug test and when such a test might be required. Moreover, random screens are only allowed in limited situations. More often, the tests are permitted as part of a conditional job offer or under reasonable suspicion the employee is using drugs. Employers are allowed to test for marijuana, as long as their drug testing complies with the rest of the requirements under federal and state law. However, an employer may not terminate an employer for testing positive for marijuana if that employee is part of Minnesota’s medical marijuana program. The big exception to this is that an employer may be able to terminate that employee if he or she is using marijuana or under the influence during work hours. Employers are also prohibited from discriminating against job applicants who are in the medical marijuana program.
Medical marijuana may also become relevant in a workers’ compensation context. During a workers’ compensation case, a doctor will decide what type of treatment is necessary and best for the injured employee. Minnesota law provides that medical marijuana may now be validly prescribed and covered under workers’ compensation.
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