Florida Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act: What You Need to Know

Are you familiar with Florida medical marijuana law? You may have heard of Amendment 2 – also called The Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative. Florida voters approved this act with a 71% majority in 2016. Even though Florida law on medical marijuana makes it legal in the state, that legislation did not have any explicit language to protect workers from getting fired if they used it. Employee advocates and the Florida Legislature recognized this issue for workers and have introduced legislation intended to protect employees in the state. The Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act (HB 595 in the House) (SB 962 in the Senate), was filed in November 2019 and introduced as legislation in January 2020. The parameters of this medical marijuana law in Florida are as follows:
  • Prohibiting an employer from taking adverse personnel action against an employee or job applicant who is a qualified patient using medical marijuana
  • Requiring an employer to provide written notice to an employee or job applicant who tests positive for marijuana of his or her right to explain the positive test result
  • Providing procedures when an employee or job applicant tests positive for marijuana
  • Providing a cause of action and damages, etc.
The above stipulations are intended to protect job applicants and employees unless the job includes safety-sensitive duties. The legislation would still allow employers to enforce a drug-free, zero-tolerance workplace — permitting employers to fire employees if their safety or performance is affected by the drug. When an employee is instructed to take a drug test at work and tests positive for marijuana, the legislation, if passed, would require the employers to give them five days (with written notice) to explain the test results. If this Florida medical marijuana law is approved by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by the governor, it will be a huge win for employee rights. It would protect workers from discrimination for their legal use of marijuana.

Current Florida Law on Medical Marijuana

While the Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act is moving through Congress, it is important for employees to understand their current protections regarding medical marijuana and Florida law. If you are currently qualified for use under Florida medical marijuana law, it is vital to know and understand your employer’s policies. In many cases, particularly the private sector, you do not have legal recourse if you get fired for a positive drug test. However, if specific accommodations were put in place for you in the conditions for your employment, you may have a case.

Moving Forward

Florida workers have a broad array of employee rights and should stay informed of any changes in state legislation that serves to protect them from discrimination and wrongful termination. Whether regarding Florida medical marijuana law, or other key subjects related to employee rights, keeping up to date on the protections that you have as a worker will assist in ensuring your rights are being upheld.

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