California’s Prop 19 An Insurance Issue? Maybe So

October 19, 2010

BankRate ran an article earlier this week that brought up some really interesting points. You may not know this, but in just a couple of weeks, Californian’s may legalize marijuana possession and use, and if that happens, law enforcement won’t be the only thing affected. The insurance industry, specifically in regards to worker’s comp insurance, and even employee health insurance, will also be affected.

How do businesses handle an employee who is legally using marijuana? Should that be handled any differently from an employee who uses over-the-counter antihistamines? Here are some of the questions BankRate believes employers need to ask:

* Are medical marijuana users exempt from my anti-drug policies?
* Can I fire an employee for using medical marijuana?
* Can I refuse to hire a job candidate based on their medical marijuana use?
* Can a medical marijuana user sue me under the Americans with Disabilities Act?
* Do state laws supersede federal laws that classify pot as an illegal substance?
* Could I run afoul of federal contracts if I don’t enforce a no-drug policy?

And of course, users also have concerns they need to address:

* If I use medical marijuana, will I get fired, or perhaps not hired in the future?
* How will medical marijuana use impact my employer’s mandatory drug testing?
* Should I even divulge my “med-hemp” use to my employer?

As the original article points out, the answers to these questions are somewhat murky, especially when you take into account the different local, state and federal laws regarding medical marijuana use, many of which are in direct conflict with each other. And, as usual, it’s the people who are caught in the middle.