During the 2019 legislative session, the Alabama Senate passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana in the state. The Alabama House was reluctant to approve the new law without additional research and through compromise a joint proposal was reached establishing a medical marijuana study commission to research the issue, collect expert and public opinion and review the laws of states which have already legalized medical marijuana. The compromise bill was signed into law by the Governor in June and the commission was given 6 months to accomplish their task and present a report and proposed legislation to the legislature. The report and draft bill were submitted on December 20 and recommended the legalization of marijuana for certain medical conditions under the strong regulation of a new agency, the Alabama Cannabis Commission. The 72 page proposed bill will be introduced in the upcoming legislative section.
Of interest to Alabama Employers is that the proposed bill allows Employers to refuse to permit or accommodate the possession or use of medical cannabis or modify job duties to accommodate use. It expressly allows Employers to refuse to hire or discipline an employee because of possession or use of medical marijuana and allows Employers to establish and enforce drug testing policies and drug free workplace programs. Finally, the proposed bill provides that employees suffering a work injury while using medical cannabis are ineligible for worker’s compensation benefits if the injury was caused by the employee’s action or inaction.
Whether this bill passes in the upcoming months or a revised bill remains to be seen. Stay tuned.
By: Attorney Celia Collins