New Jersey Expands Employment Protections for Medical Marijuana Users

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On July 2, 2019, New Jersey expanded its medical cannabis program, the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, which was renamed to the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act. The revised Act provides new job protections for users of medical cannabis, which New Jersey employers must be aware of.

In a significant change from the prior iteration of the law, the Act now contains a non-discrimination provision prohibiting employers from taking adverse employment actions against employees or applicants based solely on their status as a registered patient under the Act. The non-discrimination provision does not apply if compliance would require an employer to violate federal law or lose a federal contract or funding.

Moreover, if employers drug test employees or applicants, the Act sets forth specific procedures that an employer must now follow if an employee or applicant tests positive for cannabis. Specifically, the employer must:

  1. provide written notice to the individual of the positive test result;

  2. inform the individual of their right to present “a legitimate medical explanation” for the positive test result

  3. give the employee or applicant three working days after receiving the notice to provide to provide information explaining the positive test result, which may include a doctor’s authorization to use medical cannabis or request a retest at the employer’s expense.

Although the Act does significantly expand employment protections for medical cannabis users, the Act expressly preserves the right of employers to discipline (or fire) employees for possessing or using cannabis or other intoxicating substances during work hours or on workplace premises.

Employers in New Jersey that perform drug testing or have implemented zero tolerance drug policies will need to update their policies and practices to ensure compliance with the law.

If you have questions about your business’s drug testing or other employment policies, please contact us at (201) 345-5412 or use our online scheduling page to set up a complimentary consultation.