Employment Protections

  • by Jeff Riedy, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley NORML November 12, 2019

    Medical marijuanaLehigh Valley NORML, and medical cannabis patients from across Pennsylvania, will hold the second in a series of monthly protests at the Department of Health (PaDOH) headquarters on Forster St. “Patients First: Fixing Medical Marijuana in PA” will commence on Wednesday November 13, 2019 from 08:30 AM-5:00 PM.

    These events offer a voice to the large number of registered medical marijuana patients who are deeply dissatisfied with the current program. Key concerns: Expensive prices, product shortages and quality, few legal protections and the daily threat of a DUI charge.

    Their first rally, on October 23, saw a groundswell of support from the patient community, and  garnered significant media attention. The Nov. 13th protest again focuses on the struggles within Pennsylvania’s very restrictive medical marijuana program.

    While boasting an enrollment of around 200,000 patients, those registered continue to suffer under the extended growing pains of a stunted program. Employers and law enforcement are also playing catch up to the new laws. Patients have faced lost jobs and needless DUI charges.

    Meanwhile, those who hold the lucrative cultivation, processing, and dispensary licenses are finding new ways to profit, primarily by selling to out of state investors. Patients are stuck paying some of the most expensive cannabis product prices in the country: Average out-of-pocket expenses of over $1000 per month, with no relief from insurance.

    These protests will highlight the program’s shortcomings, and offer sensible solutions directly from the patient community. A Patients’ Bill of Rights for Medical Cannabis will be offered to legislators as a proposed Resolution.

    Lehigh Valley NORML Executive Director Jeff Riedy said, ”These protests were organized in response to the ongoing cries from registered patients. We fought to win this Medical Cannabis program in Pennsylvania, and we continue to support it. Now, we believe that the needs of our patients are being overlooked in favor of business enterprises. It’s time for our regulators and legislators to listen to our seriously ill residents once again.”

    According to longtime NORML organizer Chris Goldstein, “It’s time for the Department of Health to begin actively evolving this program. Prices need to come down significantly for working patients, and those living on a fixed income. Healthcare only works when people can afford it.”

    The next event will be on December 18, and will include a protest at the Capitol, along with a rally and brief press conference inside the Capitol Rotunda. Patients will engage in citizen lobbying efforts throughout the day.

  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate September 27, 2019

    On Wednesday, September 25th, 2019, NORML testified at the DC Council Committee on Labor and Workforce Development in support of B23-0309, the “Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employment Protection Amendment Act of 2019”, which seeks to expand workplace protections for medical cannabis patients in the District of Columbia. 

    Dozens of District residents, medical cannabis patients, and advocates came to speak in favor of ending the practice of randomly testing public employees and/or those seeking employment for their off-the-job use of cannabis. DC Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANCs) and unions also came out to speak on behalf of their constituencies and union members in support of the proposed legislation. The hearing lasted more than seven hours. 

    Councilmembers Elissa Silverman (Committee Chair and At-Large Councilmember), David Grosso (At-Large Councilmember), and Trayon White (Ward 8 Councilmember) interacted with witnesses in rounds of questioning to clarify points made in witness testimony. By the time NORML left the witness panel — after an hour of testimony and questioning — the science was made clear: Medical cannabis patients do not present any greater risk to workplace safety, and drug testing for cannabis metabolites does not provide any means of determining whether someone is impaired on the job. You can read more about NORML’s position on cannabis in the workplace here

    You can view the hearing by clicking here. NORML’s testimony begins at 32:00. You can also read NORML’s submitted written testimony here

  • by Josh Kasoff, Nevada NORML July 8, 2019

    It’s been nothing short of an incredibly exciting and exhilarating month for Nevada NORML, our advocates and the rights of patients and consumers. While Nevadans will unfortunately have to wait another two years for the fate of public consumption lounges to be decided upon, monumental legislation passed in the 2019 legislative session regardless. 

    The Battle Born State made national history with the passing and the subsequent signing by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak of Assembly Bill 132, which would prohibit employers within the state from rejecting an applicant based solely on a positive result for cannabis in a drug test. The bill greatly increases the employment opportunities of both recreational consumers and patients alike, and is undoubtedly a step in the correct progressive direction.

    Speaking of the correct progressive direction, Assembly Bill 192 would authorize those who have received low-level, usually misdemeanor cannabis possession charges to apply for expungement. 

    Advocates also had the pleasure of attending a fundraiser at Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom’s residence in May, for New Jersey Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker, where Senator Booker discussed his very vocal plans to legalize cannabis federally and further amend the criminal justice system, which is more critically broken and flawed. 

    The pinnacle of Nevada NORML’s advocacy over the past month consisted of board members’ tour across Northern Nevada. Over the course of three days, advocates visited underserved areas of the state not oftentimes visited by cannabis/criminal justice reform advocates. 

    “We were able to visit folks in Tahoe, Reno and Fallon as well as smoke shops, dispensaries and Budtender Fight Club.” said Nevada NORML Director Madisen Saglibene. “We educated them on the policies we helped pass, what didn’t pass, statistics on cannabis, starting a chapter in Northern Nevada and highlighting Old Pal as not only the sponsor for the event, but as a company who supports cultural change.”

  • by NORML June 10, 2019

    For the first time, the House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Appropriations has included language seeking to protect the employment of federal employees who consume cannabis in legal jurisdictions.

    “Denying responsible adults access to federal employment opportunities for engaging in state legal conduct is counterproductive and it disproportionately impacts the veteran community. The final appropriations package must maintain these provisions to give a sense of comfort and certainty to those residing in the continually growing number of states that have given ended their failed war against cannabis consumers,” said NORML Political Director, Justin Strekal.

    The language states:

    The Committee encourages OPM to review its policies and guidelines regarding hiring and firing of individuals who use marijuana in states where that individual’s private use of marijuana is not prohibited under the law of the state.  These policies should reflect updated changes to the law on marijuana usage and clearly state the impact of marijuana usage on federal employment.

    The language was included by Rep. Charlie Crist of Florida along with protections for financial institutions to engage in activities with state-legal cannabis businesses.

    In a releaseRep. Crist stated: “Voters across the country are saying yes to legalization. It’s time for the federal government to catch up with the will of the people. For folks from all walks of life, veterans, seniors, people facing chronic pain or disabilities, cannabis is an incredible source of relief – and that legal commerce is providing an economic boost to our communities. You shouldn’t lose your job if you need cannabis to live a healthy, normal life, and companies shouldn’t be at risk of operating a cash-only business in this day and age.”

    You can read NORML’s full fact sheet on Marijuana Legalization and its Impact on the Workplace here.

    Take action now and send a message to your member of Congress in support of the bipartisan Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act which would codify employment protections for federal workers into law.