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Florida Employers Relax Screening Standards for Marijuana


According to an article by the Sun Sentinel , Florida employers are starting to relax employment screening standards for marijuana as part of a nationwide trend that has seen many U.S. states legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use.

Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have approved legislation for medical marijuana. While the eligible debilitating conditions vary by state, marijuana is available legally for medicinal use. Moreover, nine states and the District of Columbia have approved legal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Taken as a whole, the legal use of marijuana has expanded dramatically in recent years.

One prominent Florida retailer changed their stance on testing for marijuana during the employment screening process. With more than 26,000 employees across the nation, this retailer recognizes changing attitudes toward marijuana use. In order to stay on the cutting edge of employment policies — and subsequently attract the best talent — this retailer will no longer screen for marijuana use.

That being said, employers who do not screen for marijuana use continue to maintain drug-free workplace policies. This means that employees are not allowed to use alcohol or drugs at the workplace or while performing work duties. If an accident occurs, the employer may require a drug test in certain circumstances. If that test comes back positive, the employee may face termination.

On a larger level, Florida labor laws do not require employers to make accommodates for the use of medical marijuana at the workplace. This creates a potential conflict between the employee’s right to use medical marijuana and the employer’s right to maintain a drug-free workplace.

For example, the Sun Sentinel reported on a relevant 2017 case from Massachusetts. In that case, an employee suffered from Crohn’s disease, and lawfully obtained marijuana for medical use. During the application process, the Massachusetts employer stated that medical marijuana use was not a problem. However, the employee was terminated after testing positive for marijuana during the screening process.

After reviewing the case details, the Massachusetts court determined that the employee was asking for a reasonable accommodation for her medical needs. Further, the Massachusetts statute that authorized medical marijuana provided an implicit right to use. Overall, the Massachusetts court decided that employees with valid prescriptions have a right to offsite use of medical marijuana. Employers must accommodate this type of lawful use, but does not have to allow use in the workplace.

While a Massachusetts court case does not necessarily impact Florida employment laws, it can be informative nonetheless. Legal scholars have drawn comparisons between the medical marijuana statutes in both Massachusetts and Florida, so it is possible that a similar case could emerge in the Florida courts at some point.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

If you have legal questions about marijuana use and employment screening, it can be highly beneficial to seek counsel from a trusted Florida employment attorney. Based in Miami, Florida, the attorneys at Penichet Law understand the nuances of labor and employment law. If you need legal help, contact us today for a consultation.