Counties Oppose Removal of Tool That Protects Safety of Employees

On Monday, Michael Sanderson submitted written testimony in opposition to HB 794 Labor and Employment – Discrimination Against Medical Cannabis  Patients and Caregivers – Prohibition  (Medical Cannabis Patient and Caregiver Antidiscrimination Act).

HB 794 prohibits employers, including county governments, from enforcing zero tolerance workplace drug policies against employees based on the employee’s status as a qualifying medical cannabis patient unless said patient used, possessed, or was impaired by cannabis during work hours.

Counties employ a wide range of employees with sensitive job duties, and are deeply concerned about undermining their ability to protect the safety and well-being of both their employees and the residents they serve.

From the MACo Testimony:

This bill prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against employees based on the employee’s status as a qualifying medical cannabis patient or caregiver or a qualified patient’s positive drug test for cannabis components or metabolites unless the qualified patient used, possessed, or was impaired by cannabis while at work or during work hours.  

Although the bill creates an exception for impairment at work, current drug testing technology is incapable of definitively discerning between an employee who tests positive for marijuana and is currently impaired versus an employee who tests positive as a result of prior marijuana use. As such, it is virtually impossible for employers to determine if an employee is impaired by cannabis during work hours.

Despite their differences, Maryland county governments all have one goal in common: to provide for the health, safety, and well-being of their residents. This bill removes one tool available to further that important goal.

For more on 2019 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.

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