MEDICAL MARIJUANA

THE LAW makes medical marijuana legal, but people who use medical marijuana could be fired from their jobs for having pot in their systems.

JEFFERSON CITY – Employees could be drug tested at work for medical marijuana under a proposal discussed by state senators.

In the Missouri Small Business and Industry Committee, Senate Bill 227 drew questions, but no opposition.

The bill would let employers drug test employees and prospective employees for medical marijuana, and would give employers the discretion to take action based on the results. The bill would not make drug testing mandatory, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said.

Sater said his goal is to provide clarity for employers after voters passed Amendment 2 to legalized medical marijuana use in Missouri.

“A lot of employers that I talked to were unsure as to what to do,” Sater said. “They want to make sure their workplace is safe, but they weren’t sure if they could do drug testing after Amendment 2.”

Sater owned a pharmacy for 30 years.

“I don’t want someone who shows positive for marijuana involved in my business,” Sater said. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable knowing that I had someone who was using, even for medicinal use.”

He said he understood the confusion felt by employers.

“Employers are caught in the middle, because they don’t know,” Sater said. “A visual test is not foolproof, so many rely on the drug testing.”

The National Institutes of Health states marijuana can stay in the body for weeks after use. This means a person may have used marijuana the night before work, and is not under the influence, but the drug still would be in the person’s system.

Sater said there is no way to test if someone is under the influence, but the bill ensures businesses could take precautions.

“The employer doesn’t know if they are technically sober. The employee may say, ‘Oh, I smoked it last night; Oh, I had it last night. I haven’t had it this morning,’” Sater said. “But do we know for sure?”

When asked about drug testing for other drugs, like opioids, Sater said that in some jobs, being on any drug is dangerous. Sater said his bill focuses on medical marijuana because, despite Missouri voters passing Amendment 2, the federal government still considers medical marijuana an illegal, Schedule I drug.

Representatives from Associated Industries of Missouri and Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry testified for the bill.

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