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Job Discrimination

  • by NORML May 28, 2020

    Adults who consume cannabis are no more likely to experience injuries at work than are those employees who abstain from the substance, according to the findings of a new literature review published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse.

    A team of researchers affiliated with the University of British Columbia conducted a systematic review of scientific papers assessing any potential links between cannabis use and occupational accidents.

    Investigators determined that most of the existing literature on the subject suffers from poor research designs. Specifically, few studies “employed research designs that ensured that cannabis use preceded the occupational injury outcome.” Others failed to adequately assess or control for confounding variables, such as the concurrent use of alcohol or other psychoactive substances.

    Due to these limitations, authors concluded, “[T]he current body of evidence does not provide sufficient evidence to support the position that cannabis users are at increased risk of occupational injury.”

    Their finding is consistent with that of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine which conducted its own literature review in 2017 and concluded, “There is no or insufficient evidence to support … a statistical association between cannabis use and … occupational accidents or injuries.”

    The study’s publication comes at a time when many local and state officials are re-examining workplace marijuana testing policies. Commenting on this trend, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Suspicionless marijuana testing never has been an evidence-based policy. Rather, these discriminatory practices are a holdover from the zeitgeist of the 1980s ‘war on drugs.’ But times have changed; attitudes have changed, and in many places, the marijuana laws have changed. It is time for workplace policies to adapt to this new reality.”

    In recent weeks, local lawmakers in several municipalities –- including Rochester, New York and Richmond, Virginia -– have moved to eliminate marijuana screens for certain prospective employees. These moves follow the enactment of similar policy changes in larger cities, such as New York City and Washington, DC.

    Lawmakers in Maine and Nevada have enacted similar, statewide legislation barring certain employers from refusing to hire a worker because he or she tested positive for cannabis on a pre-employment drug screen.

    The abstract of the study, “Systemic review of cannabis use and risk of occupational injury,” appears online here. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Legalization and Impact on the Workplace.”

  • by NORML Canada October 15, 2019

    Legal Marijuana Sales Being in Canada

    NORML Canada launches official Post-Legalization platform to focus advocacy efforts on reforming Canada’s legal Cannabis system.

    In light of the first year of legalization, NORML Canada has monitored the Canadian cannabis landscape closely, to determine the next steps for crafting achievable and functional reform of cannabis regulations.

    The five key “pillars” established by NORML Canada are designed to help focus organizational resources to support our ongoing government and public outreach.

    1) Increased Access 
    Our goal is to ensure consumers have ease of access to legal cannabis products, access to medical dispensaries, access to world-class product options, as well as access to affordable legal options.

    2) Transitioning “Unregulated Market” into the legal framework
    Creating avenues for the current unlicensed market to be welcomed as part of the legal cannabis industry in order to achieve the government’s stated goal of disincentivizing the illicit market.

    3) Social discrimination protections
    Putting in place protective regulations that remove stigma barriers and consequences for consumers in the workplace, housing, and family.

    4) US relations – border & banking
    Ensuring international respect for Canada’s sovereign laws. Removal of any unnecessary international banking/travel barriers for legal business and cannabis entrepreneurs.

    5) Expungement, apologies, reparations & beyond
    Government must acknowledge the fact that cannabis laws were historically unjust and discriminatory in the first place.

    NORML Canada invites the public and press to join us at the historic Hotbox Lounge on Oct 17th, from 4-7pm to launch the new official platform, and to discuss the year-to-date. 

    NORML Canada proudly welcomes our sister chapter to the South – NORML Michigan, to share insights on Michigan’s newly passed legal recreational cannabis bill. Our combined goals are to understand how we can learn from and collaborate with one another.

    For additional information please contact Info@norml.ca

  • 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 Stephen M. Komie, NORML Legal Committee September 23, 2019

    On June 25, 2019, Governor JB Pritzker signed into law a revision of the Illinois Cannabis Control Act, 720 ILCS 550.1 et seq. Commencing January 1, 2020, Illinois residents will be authorized to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis for usage as they desire.  Non-residents do not have the same exception from the criminal penalties. Non-residents are limited to 15 grams. Between now and January 1, 2020 the law remains in effect prohibiting possession of marijuana except for persons who have Illinois Medical Marijuana Cards.  

    Illinois has an estimated 770,000 marijuana related criminal records which are now eligible for clemency by Governor Pritzker. Prior to January 1, 2020 expungements remain in effect for persons who received court supervision, or were not convicted, or had their case dismissed after a motion to suppress, or the prosecution declined to proceed.  Those expungements remain available in the normal manner.

    Executive clemency is not an expungement.  Executive clemency is the power of the governor to exonerate or forgive persons who have committed crimes. Persons who have had arrests for 30 grams or less will have the Illinois State Police and local police agencies examine their arrests over a 6-month period after January 1, 2020.  The police agencies will have 6 months to find those records. For all who were convicted of 30 grams or less, the state and local police are required to send those records within 6 months to the Governor’s Prisoner Review Board.  The law charges the Prisoner Review Board with the obligation to review each case for eligibility for clemency. The criteria to be employed is 1) is it the same person as reported arrested; 2) is the record a correct record; and 3) there must be an absence of any violent offense involved with the arrest.  Once cleared by the Prisoner Review Board, the Prisoner Review Board will make a recommendation to Governor Pritzker.  

    It is expected that Governor Pritzker is most likely to issue hundreds of thousands of pardons during the remainder of his four-year term in office. The Governor has announced that it will be a very streamlined process. This, of course, remains to be seen. After a pardon is issued, Attorney General of Illinois Kwame Raoul, acting on behalf of the Prisoner Review Board, will appear before a circuit judge to seek expungement for the cases where clemency is granted by the Governor.  It is expected that hundreds of thousands of persons will be relieved of their criminal record which prevented them from receiving government benefits such as housing and welfare.  

    For people who were arrested with 30 to 500 grams the expungement process remains in effect. Except for the first-time offenders, those persons may request the court to vacate their conviction and expunge the records. 

    This reform is unprecedented in Illinois law and will be a first.  The arresting police agency can object to the request to vacate the conviction and expunge the record. The law directs the court to consider the defendant’s age at the time of the offense, the current age of the defendant, and any adverse consequences which would accompany denial of the expungement.  

    As with all developments in the law, every person’s case is different and requires the advice of a skilled attorney who is knowledgeable in the area of criminal law and expungement. I would urge all members of NORML who have criminal records for zero to 30 grams and 30 grams to 500 grams to consult with your local member of the NORML Legal Committee to determine your eligibility for clemency and/or expungement.

  • by NORML September 5, 2019

    District council members have enacted legislation — Act Number A23-0114: The Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employment Protection Temporary Amendment Act — to protect qualified patients from workplace discrimination.

    The Act states, “A public employer may not refuse to hire, terminate from employment, penalize, fail to promote, or otherwise take adverse employment action against an individual based upon the individual’s status as a qualifying [medical cannabis] patient unless the individual used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana at the individual’s place of employment or during the hours of employment.”

    It further states, “A qualifying patient’s failure to pass a public employer-administered drug test for marijuana components or metabolites may not be used as a basis for employment-related decisions unless reasonable suspicion exists that the qualified patients was impaired by marijuana at the qualifying patient’s place of employment or during hours of employment.”

    The law does not apply to either employees in “safety sensitive positions” or to those who are required to undergo drug testing as a federal requirement.

    Council members voted 12 to zero in favor of the proposal. Mayor Muriel Bowser did not sign the measure.

    Like all District legislation, the act must undergo a 30-day Congressional review prior to taking effect.

    Commenting on the Act, NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf said: “Employment protections are critical to ensure that law-abiding adults are not unduly discriminated against in their efforts to be productive members of society solely because of their use of medical cannabis while away from the job. The enactment of this law will provide clarity to employers and peace of mind to the employees who work in the District of Columbia.”

    To date, 15 states provide workplace protections for medical cannabis patients. Two states, Maine and Nevada, provide limit certain non-safety sensitive employers from taking punitive actions against any adult who uses cannabis while off the job.

    Read the full text of the Act here.

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