Missouri Business Headlines

Medical marijuana — bringing clarity to drug-free policies

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With the passage of Amendment 2 last fall, Missouri employers have been left wondering how the legalization of medical marijuana impacts workplace anti-drug policies.

The amendment seemingly forbids workers from suing their employers if they come to work high on marijuana and then face disciplinary action. But beyond that, it’s unclear what employers need to do to prepare.

“Employers are caught in the middle,” said Sen. David Sater, a Republican from Cassville.

To help this situation, Sen. Sater has sponsored Senate Bill 227. The bill would spell out in the law that Missouri employers do not have to accommodate medical marijuana usage at work. It also states that employers will still be allowed to do random drug testing and that positive drug tests can still be grounds for dismissal or choosing not to hire a new employee.

Sen. Sater said it’s important to spell out these protections in the law so that employers can have confidence in taking these actions.

“With Amendment 2, there are many employers who are reluctant to drug test and operate as they have in the past,” he said. “And since this is kind of a gray area in the law, it is my intention with this bill to bring some clarity to the statute by specifying that employers can still drug test as they have been doing up until now.”

During a Senate committee hearing on his bill, Sen. Sater also noted that some types of businesses are especially concerned about the potential impact of marijuana in the workplace.

“I owned a pharmacy for 30 years,” he said. “It would be a bad thing for my business if I had a pharmacy tech helping fill prescriptions for me who is high on marijuana and makes a mistake.”

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports Senate Bill 227. Missouri Chamber Vice President of Governmental Affairs Matt Panik testified in favor of the legislation.

“Amendment 2 was somewhat vague,” Panik said. “This bill simply gives the employer the objective means to know whether or not they can have confidence taking disciplinary action.”

The bill now awaits a vote in the Senate Small Business and Industry Committee.

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