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Oregon Bill to Protect Marijuana Use

Oregon Senator Ryan Deckert (D, Beaverton), has introduced Senate Bill 423 to outlaw discrimination against medical marijuana users. With almost 13,000 Oregonians from across the state currently holding marijuana cards, each and every Oregon employer faces a very real prospect that, if adopted, this law will apply to them.

Here is what the bill would do – (1) add a new employment discrimination statute and (2) amend the current medical marijuana statute.

The employment discrimination statute would make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because he or she "engages in the medical use of marijuana" as defined by the medical marijuana statute. The bill purports to limit use to "outside of the workplace," it would, however, appear to protect an employee getting high right before work or over a meal break. Under the bill, employees would not be able to use medical marijuana in the workplace, but they do not appear to be prohibited from being under the influence of marijuana while at work.

Oregon's current The medical marijuana statute, a separate statute, currently provides that employers are not required to accommodate medical use of marijuana in the workplace. This bill would amend that provision to require employers to accommodate "use of marijuana outside of the workplace." Once again, could employees come to work under the influence of marijuana that they used "outside of the workplace?"

Obviously, the problems with this bill for employers are numerous. In fact, I would appreciate your thoughts on the problems this proposed legislation would cause for you. Simply add your comments below.

While you are thinking of problems, please allow me to add one more. Drug testing labs tell me that they can detect whether an employee has used an illegal or controlled substance, but they cannot determine how long ago the substance was used or whether the employee was under the influence at the time of the test. Under this bill, a medical marijuana card could be the perfect way to mask marijuana use at work. Unless the employee was actually observed using marijuana, there is no way that the current tests can determine if the drug was used inside or outside of your workplace.

You can download a copy of this bill from our Client Downloads page. Go to the Oregon Legislation link and click on sb0423.pdf.

I will attempt to keep you posted on other proposals the Oregon Legislature comes up with for Oregon businesses and Oregon employers.

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