MISSISSIPPI LEGALIZES MEDICAL CANNABIS

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Mississippi voters initially passed medical cannabis in November 2020 via ballot initiative, which contained favorable guidance for employers. However, in spring 2021 the state Supreme Court ruled the ballot initiative unconstitutional, effectively nullifying the program. Throughout 2021 and in to early 2022, legislators discussed possible next steps, resulting in the passage of Senate Bill 2095 (SB 2095) in early February 2022, re-legalizing cannabis in the state.

SB 2095, known as the “Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act,” (the Act) permits the use of medical cannabis for several debilitating medical conditions and became effective immediately upon receipt of the governor’s signature, despite the fact that medical cannabis is not yet available. When available, medical cannabis products can include flower, extracts, edibles, beverages, topical products, ointments, oils, tinctures, and suppositories.

What Does the Act Say About the Workplace?

Employers may not be penalized or denied any benefit under state law because of their employment of a medical cannabis cardholder. The Act does not impact the existing legal relationship between an employer and an employee.

Employers are not required to: 

    Permit, accommodate, or allow the use of medical cannabis in the workplace.

    Modify the job or working conditions of an employee that uses or seeks to use medical cannabis.

    Reimburse or pay for costs associated with the use of medical cannabis.

Employers are not prohibited from: 

    Refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, or taking adverse employment action against an individual as a result (in whole or in part) of said individual’s use of medical cannabis, regardless of the individual’s impairment or lack of impairment resulting from the use of medical cannabis.

    Establishing or enforcing a drug testing policy.

    Disciplining employees for ingesting medical cannabis in the workplace or working while under the influence of medical cannabis.

Addressing workplace injuries, the Act supports an employer’s right to administer drug and alcohol testing or to require the employee to submit to drug and alcohol testing. A positive test result due to any illegal drug, valid prescription medication taken contrary to instructions/warning labels, or medical cannabis shall allow the employer to presume that it was the proximate cause of the injury. Should the employer refuse to submit to a drug or alcohol test, the same shall be assumed. Should such a case arise, the employee then has the burden of proof to prove that the use of illegal drugs, improperly used prescription medication, or medical cannabis was not a contributing cause of the accident.

The Act is not meant to interfere with or impede upon federal requirements on employment or contracting, including applicable federal Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. Additionally, the Act does not authorize or establish an individual’s right to undertake legal action against an employer for refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, or taking adverse employment action due to the individual’s use of medical cannabis.

Next Steps for Employers

Employers should immediately review their policies to ensure that they are up to date regarding the newly passed law. DISA’s professionals can ensure you’re implementing a drug testing program that’s custom to your company’s needs and meets compliance standards.

Additional Links:

    Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act Summary

    SB 2095 - History of Actions/Background (state.ms.us) 

    Bill Text: MS SB2095 | 2022 | Regular Session | Enrolled | LegiScan

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Founded in 1986, DISA is the industry-leading provider of employee screening and compliance services. Headquartered in Houston, with more than 30 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, DISA’s comprehensive scope of services includes drug and alcohol testing, background screening, occupational health, and transportation compliance. DISA assists employers in making informed staffing decisions while building a culture of safety in their workplace.