Last week news broke that a bill to protect the employment rights of medical cannabis patients was introduced in California, and a similar bill has been proposed in Hawaii. As we’ve seen with political elections of all types, winning begets winning, and advancements in one state will influence the actions of other states.
While it is great that we are ending criminal punishments for both adult-use and medical cannabis patients across the nation, there are still many ways that the cannabis community remains treated as second-class citizens, and employment rights are certainly one of the issues that still need to be addressed. The Boston Globe reported on the Hawaiian medical employment protection bill:
“Medical cannabis patients face significant stigma due to longstanding misperceptions regarding cannabis and its uses, fueled by a longstanding, costly ‘war on drugs’ that is disproportionately waged against those impacted by social detriments of health,” officials with the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii said in a written testimony.
The legislation specifies that employers would be allowed to use a fit-for-duty test as a tool for medical cannabis users in potentially dangerous jobs.
It excludes law enforcement and corrections officers, firefighters, water safety officers, emergency medical workers, and any health care worker who might administer drugs to patients. Also excluded would be any employees who work with children, seniors or other vulnerable populations, employees who operate heavy equipment, and most truck employees or drivers.
It’s great to see state after state considering to pass common sense legislation to prevent workplace discrimination of medical cannabis patients. It is a shame that people are losing job opportunities or even denying themselves a safe and effective medicine because they need to make a living. Step by step, let’s keep moving towards true equality for the cannabis community.