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The implications of medical marijuana for MN employers, employees

As we’ve discussed on our blog before, Minnesotans saw the minimum wage rise to $8 an hour last summer and are going to see it rise yet again to $9 per hour this coming summer.

As significant as this is, however, it isn’t the only noteworthy change coming to Minnesota’s employment laws. That’s because starting July 1, medical marijuana will officially be legalized in the state, meaning employers and employees alike will see some fundamental shifts in the workplace.

Hiring and termination

Minnesota’s new laws expressly prohibit employers from either terminating or withholding employment offers to individuals based solely on their drug test coming back positive for marijuana — provided the positive result stems from the use of the drug for medicinal purposes.

It should be noted, however, that this same prohibition does not apply to those employers required to maintain a drug-free workplace in order to maintain licensure and/or avoid running afoul of federal laws/regulations.

Drug tests

As referenced above, if employers have drug policies in place dictating that any positive test for marijuana will automatically result in either termination or the withholding of employment, they will need to revisit them.

What this means is that these drug policies will have to be reworked such that positive tests for marijuana are examined on a case-by-case basis to determine whether an employee has a valid prescription for medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana and work

Experts indicate that employees must bear in mind that even though they may be enrolled in the state registry and protected from being fired for a positive drug test otherwise attributable to medical marijuana, the law does not say that they can use or be under the influence of the drug while at work. Indeed, it’s possible that this could prove to be a terminable offense.

It’s highly likely that more employment-related questions and concerns will arise as we move closer to the July 1 legalization of medical marijuana. Stay tuned for updates …

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