Following in the footsteps of New York City, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada and Oklahoma, New Jersey has finally enacted employment protections for authorized users of medical marijuana.
The new medical marijuana law, which came into effect on July 2, amends New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act (CUMCA). Courtesy of the new law, no employer can now take an “adverse employment action” against a current or prospective employee on the grounds of the individual’s status as a registered qualifying user of medical cannabis.
The law considers the following things as “adverse employment action”:
- Refusing to hire or employ an individual
- Barring or firing an individual from employment
- Forcing an individual to retire
- Discriminating against an individual in compensation or in any terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.
Furthermore, the law makes it compulsory for employers that maintain drug-testing policies to offer present and prospective employees the right to respond, in specific ways, to a drug test that comes back positive for marijuana.
Upon receiving the notice for a failed drug test from the employer, an applicant/employee has 3 days to provide a “legitimate medical explanation” for the positive test result or to request a retest of the sample. If the ‘failure’ is because of medical cannabis prescribed by a health care practitioner, no employer can refuse a job to an applicant (or employee) if the latter is successful at producing proof of registration with the state’s newly created Cannabis Regulator Commission or an authorization certificate from a licensed physician.
The individual can also ask for a retest but at their own expense.
This piece of legislation has come as a huge relief for not only registered medical users but also other individuals who have failed drug tests because of normal CBD products that they bought from the local market.
As the marijuana regulatory landscape continues to evolve across states, it will be a good practice for all employers to regularly review and make necessary changes to their drug-testing policies.