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How Does Medical Marijuana Bill Affect Florida Employment Law?


Florida Governor Rick Scott signed off on legislation that adjusts the state process for medical marijuana, according to an article by The Associated Press. This bill expands the scope and use of medical marijuana in Florida, raising questions about the potential impact to employment law.

Passed as SB 8-A and titled “Medical Use of Marijuana,” this bill represents the amendment that 71 percent of Florida voters approved last November. Most notably, the bill enables people suffering from HIV, AIDS, glaucoma, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis to obtain medical marijuana, adding to a list that already included cancer, epilepsy and chronic muscle spasms.

In addition, SB 8-A details how medical marijuana relates to the workplace. In Subsection 15, titled “Applicability,” SB 8-A spells out four important considerations for employers and employees. We will discuss each of those considerations in sequence below.

Drug-Free Workplaces

The first sentence of subsection 15 provides that SB 8-A “does not limit the ability of an employer to establish, continue, or enforce a drug-free workplace program or policy.”

Essentially, this means that employers are free to continue drug testing and other legal policies to keep drug use out of their workplace. Stated otherwise, an employer can terminate an employee for marijuana use, even if the employee is legally authorized to use medical marijuana.

Medical Marijuana at Work

The second sentence of subsection 15 provides that SB 8-A “does not require an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace or any employee working while under the influence of marijuana.”

This means that even if an employee has a valid medical marijuana prescription, employers are allowed to dictate how the employee uses marijuana in the workplace. Employers are free to ban medical marijuana use at the workplace. Employers can also prevent employees from performing duties while under the influence of marijuana.

Wrongful Discharge and Discrimination

The third sentence of subsection 15 provides that SB 8-A “does not create a cause of action against an employer for wrongful discharge or discrimination.”

Fundamentally, this part of SB 8-A allows employers to discharge or discriminate against employees for medical marijuana use. Even if an employee is legally allowed to use medical marijuana, it could negatively affect their employment.

Workers’ Compensation

The fourth and final sentence of subsection 15 provides, “[m]arijuana, as defined in this section, is not reimbursable under chapter 440.”

Florida Statutes under Chapter 440 outline the legal considerations for workers’ compensation. So this guideline simply prevents employees from seeking reimbursement for medical marijuana in workers’ compensation claims. 

Do you need legal counsel?

For both employers and employees, it can be a challenge to navigate the ins and outs of employment law. With the need to account for federal, state and local regulations, it is easy to get overwhelmed. But a knowledgeable employment attorney can make a real difference, helping you understand the law and achieve an efficient resolution.

Based in Miami, Florida, Penichet Law is dedicated to the practice of employment and labor law. If you need legal advice concerning an employment matter, please do not hesitate to contact us immediately. Penichet Law is available by phone at 800-652-0408 (toll free) and 305-373-8809 (toll) or online by completing a simple form.