Oklahoma Bill to Stop Employment Discrimination Against Marijuana Consumers
Legalization Happened.. Now What?
Since the legalization of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program in June 2018, the state has been struggling to create legislation to protect Oklahoma citizens from medical marijuana job discrimination. In this legal state, employees who are tested for high levels of THC were at a potential risk of being fired or demoted from their job positions by their employers, and getting a job with a medical card feels nearly impossible to potential employees.
With the new House Bill 2612, better known as the “Utility Bill,” consumers or patients who are legally prescribed to obtain marijuana cannot be denied employment or terminated from their jobs if tested for high levels of THC. The new bill might help stop future discrimination against people who are getting a job with a medical card, but there is no law protecting THC patients to be drug tested by their current or future employers.
The Utility Bill prohibits employers from “refusing to hire, discipline, discharge, or penalize” an employee for a positive drug test for marijuana unless they do not possess a legal marijuana card. The Bill does not protect employees from workplace penalties if they are using cannabis at their job site or under the influence of marijuana while working.
But Does The Bill Protect Everyone from Medical Marijuana Job Discrimination?
Unfortunately, not every employee is protected under the Utility Bill, specifically employees who have “safety-sensitive” job duties. The Bill discusses how marijuana patients can be penalized for their THC use if their job duties include “handling, packaging, and disposing hazardous materials” and objects. Employees who “operate machinery, equipment, power tools, repair or monitor infrastructure sites and other critical services” are also not protected from penalization.
The Utility Bill also doesn’t protect federal contract workers and employees from penalization since they are under federal law to keep a drug-free workplace. The same also goes for firefighters, police, and employees who handle patient care, child care, and pharmaceuticals.
As Legality Grows..
Oklahoma is one of the few legalized states that have pushed legislation to protect marijuana patients and consumers from employer discrimination. In Nevada, the state’s Assembly Bill 132 prohibits employers from denying jobs to cannabis consumers and barring discrimination at the workplace.
Nevada set the bar for cannabis friendly legislation by passing Assembly Bill 140, which protects marijuana patients from being denied child custody or adoptions due to their cannabis use. More importantly, Nevada’s new bill denies state agencies from citing a parent’s medical marijuana use as evidence to declare they are an unfit parent to a child in court.
Other legal cannabis states like New York and Maine are some of the only legal states that have passed legislation to protect marijuana consumers from discrimination in the job force. Both states unfortunately don’t protect all marijuana consumers from job discrimination, especially in safety or security job sectors.
Sadly, the two biggest legal cannabis markets in the US, California and Colorado, do not have any current legislation protecting marijuana consumers from being penalized or fired at their place of work for testing positive for high levels of THC.
Currently in Colorado and California, marijuana use is only legal for at home or private use. A few bills like Colorado’s House Bill 1230 have been optioned for businesses to apply to become marijuana consumption areas, giving cannabis consumers the ability to smoke in a public setting. Although because of the loose legal definition on what is considered “open and public” marijuana use in both states cannabis laws and regulations, smoking cannabis in a public setting is still difficult in both fully legal states.
Oklahoma’s “Utility Bill” will be an effect on August, 31st. Nevada’s Assembly Bill 140 has been in effect since July this year. Nevada’s Assembly Bill’s 132 won’t be effective until January 2020.
Most of the newest Assembly Bills and cannabis friendly legislation in Oklahoma, New York, and Nevada were written and passed just in the last few months of this year. With these new cannabis friendly laws and regulations, cannabis lovers can look forward to a lot of change in the workforce that could make getting a job with a medical card even easier.