A federal bill that would decriminalize cannabis use has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives for the second time. However, the bill’s fate in the Senate is still unclear. If the proposed bill is signed into law, the Act would resolve conflicts between federal and state law that has continued to cause confusion for employers. However, state laws on medical and recreational marijuana use would still vary.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, H.R. 3617, passed the House in a 220-204 vote on April 1 [with all but two Democrats voting for the measure and all but three Republicans voting against it].
Marijuana is still listed as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, which means that marijuana is deemed to have a high potential for abuse and no medical value. The MORE Act would de-schedule marijuana, remove criminal sanctions and provide some relief for past convictions.
Under the Act, states would still regulate cannabis and would not be required to legalize its use. Currently, 37 states have approved medical marijuana use, and 18 of those states and Washington, D.C., also have approved recreational use.
It should be noted that state laws vary significantly as to whether such a law would provide workplace protection for off-duty use. Where medical and recreational cannabis use is legal, employers can still have policies that prohibit any cannabis use by employees.
Many employers are hesitant to test workers as they struggle with staffing shortages. In fact, many employers have dropped THC from their pre-employment drug panels.
As part of every employers HR, employers should train managers and supervisors on ways to observe when someone is working under the influence.
Stuart J. Oberman, Esq.
Stuart J. Oberman is the founder and President of Oberman Law Firm. Mr. Oberman graduated from Urbana University and received his law degree from John Marshall Law School. Mr. Oberman has been practicing law for over 30 years, and before going into private practice, Mr. Oberman was in-house counsel for a Fortune 500 Company.
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