On May 17, 2016, the new Medical Marijuana Act (MMA) took effect, making Pennsylvania the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana, and contains several significant employment related provisions. The Act states that “no employer may discharge, threaten, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee regarding an employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location of privileges solely on the basis of such employee’s status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana.” (Emphasis added). Furthermore, the Act states that it does not require an employer to make any accommodation of the use of medical marijuana on the premises of any place of employment. Employers can still discipline employees who are under the influence of medical marijuana at the workplace when the employee’s conduct falls below the standard of care normally accepted for that position. These employment provisions raise questions on how courts will determine what “falling below the standard of care” for that position.
Employers who adhere to a zero tolerance policy and/or an anti-discrimination policy may need to modify them accordingly. The Act strictly limits the list of medical conditions in which medical marijuana is legally permissible, and smoking medical marijuana is still prohibited; the drug can only be dispensed as pills, oil, creams, liquids, and forms that can be vaporized.