Recent Changes to Pennsylvania and New Jersey Medical Marijuana Laws

With the “hazy” days of summer upon us, we wanted to update you on two recent developments regarding Pennsylvania and New Jersey’s medical marijuana laws.  Late last month, the Pennsylvania Department of Health expanded the list of qualifying medical conditions for the use of medical marijuana to include anxiety disorders and Tourette’s syndrome.  This list, which has grown since medical marijuana first became available to Pennsylvanians in February of 2018, now contains twenty-three (23) qualifying serious medical conditions.

Larger changes to New Jersey’s medical marijuana law also went into effect in July.  Under the newly-amended law, an employer cannot take an adverse employment action—which includes refusing to hire, firing, or discriminating against an individual in any term, condition, or privilege of employment—against a medical marijuana user that is based solely on his/her status as a medical marijuana patient.  This protection, however, does not “restrict an employer’s ability to prohibit or take adverse employment action for the possession or use of intoxicating substances during work hours or on workplace premises outside of work hours.”  Also, an employer can take adverse action against such an individual if accommodating his/her medical marijuana use would “violate federal law or result in the loss of a federal contract or federal funding.”

Furthermore, New Jersey employers must follow a newly-created procedure when an employee or applicant has tested positive for marijuana.  The employer must give the individual written notice of the result and offer him/her an opportunity to present “a legitimate medical explanation” for the result.  Within three (3) business days after the individual’s receipt of the notice, the individual can either request retesting of the original sample at his/her own expense or, alternatively, present a “legitimate medical explanation” for the test result.  Under the New Jersey law, the individual may present authorization for medical marijuana use by a health care provider and/or proof of registration with the state for medical marijuana use.

In light of these changes, employers in the Keystone and Garden States should revisit their drug and alcohol policies and make any revisions if needed.  For any questions about this or any other labor and employment topic, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Hoffman Hlavac & Easterly.

For discussions on this area of law and a variety of other employment law topics, please register for our 2019 Labor and Employment Seminar which will be held on September 18, 2019. To register, click the following link and fill out the registration form: https://www.hhe-law.com/seminars