Is it High Time to Protect Cannabis Users?

On March 3rd, 2022, the Illinois House approved a bill containing workplace protections for employees who are legal cannabis consumers. This bill aims to ensure that workers are not fired for legally using cannabis during off hours.

Many employers still choose to drug test employees.  Since Illinois legalized recreational marijuana use, employees have been unsure how such use may impact their workplace or pre-hire drug tests.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bob Morgan (D) told NBC affiliate WGEM   before the vote…

“If we’re going to legalize the substance, you should talk about individual liberties and what people want to do on their weekends.”  We should allow people to make good choices and not be discriminated against in the workplace because of those choices as long as it’s not affecting the workplace.”

This bill, which now heads to the Senate, would prohibit most employers from firing workers or discriminating against job applicants merely for testing positive for marijuana use, with some exceptions.

Clearing the haze around exempted employees

Morgan’s legislation contains exceptions for certain categories of workers. Specifically, those in safety-sensitive positions like emergency services or employees who work around heavy machinery or hazardous materials.  As the bill is drafted now, employers may still choose to prohibit off-duty marijuana use.

Additionally, the bill makes clear that companies may still fire employees who come to work impaired by cannabis.

It is important to note that the bill has not yet become law and it may yet go through other iterations before it does. Morgan has consistently worked with leaders from the business community to address concerns.

IMA Government Affairs Director Donovan Griffith explained negotiations have come a long way over the past year.

Adding in an interview with WGEM   , “We don’t believe that the bill is perfect. I think we are going to continue to work on the safety-sensitive position in the Senate,” Griffith said. “But, to that point, Rep. Morgan has been working with the business community tirelessly.”

Now we wait for this bill to be hashed out in the Senate.

If you have any questions, our attorneys are here to help navigate the current status of protections as well as future implications should this bill become law.