Medical Marijuana Is About To Become Legal In Illinois

ILLINOIS:  On January 1, 2014, usage of marijuana for medicinal purposes will become legal in Illinois. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act creates a four-year pilot program that will allow patients diagnosed with one of a list of specific, debilitating medical conditions to use medicinal marijuana. The purpose of the act is to protect patients with such debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians and providers, from arrest and prosecution for engaging in the medical use of cannabis.

Qualifying individuals, designated as “registered qualified patients,” will be issued a Registry Identification Card by the Department of Public Health.

So what does this mean for Illinois employers?

The act contains specific provisions regarding the workplace that attempt to balance the interests of employers and employees. On the plus side for employers, the act’s language strives to minimize its impact on existing workplace policies and liabilities. Thus, an employer is not prohibited from:

Restricting or prohibiting the medical use or possession of prescribed marijuana on its property.
Disciplining an employee who is a registered qualified patient if that employee violates a properly constructed work-place drug policy.

Adopting reasonable rules relating to the use of medical marijuana such as consumption, storage, or timekeeping requirements.

Enforcing a policy concerning drug testing, zero-tolerance, or a drug-free work place, including disciplining an employee who is a registered qualified patient for failing a drug test if failing to do so would put the employer in violation of federal law or cause it to lose a federal contract or funding. Considering a registered qualified patient to be impaired when he or she manifests specific, articulable symptoms while working that decrease or lessen his or her performance of the duties or tasks of the employee’s job position, provided that if the employer disciplines the individual, it must first provide a reasonable opportunity to contest the basis of the determination.

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