IL Marijuana Legalization: What Does It Mean for Employers?
The state of Illinois has recently passed a series of bills related to both medical and recreational use of marijuana. Here’s how employers will be impacted moving forward.
1. Medical Marijuana
Recently the state passed HB 1438, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (Cannabis Act) and SB 2023, which stabilizes the medical marijuana pilot program that was set to expire in Illinois. SB 2023 adds 11 new medical conditions which may qualify for legal medical marijuana treatment with a physician’s prescription.
These conditions include:
- Chronic pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome
For the complete list, download our white paper here. It’s important to note that while these prescriptions are legal on a state level, the federal government still considers them illegal. Employers cannot treat these expenses as tax-free benefits for employees, nor can they be paid for using an HSA or other tax-free options.
2. Recreational Marijuana Use
Illinois has approved the recreational use of marijuana beginning on January 1, 2020. This will allow Illinois residents 21 years of age and older to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, up to 500 milligrams of THC products, and up to 5 grams of cannabis concentrate.
The Cannabis Act also places recreational cannabis use, on a state level, as a lawful product under the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act. This means that employees who use cannabis outside of work hours but are under the influence at work cannot be subject to termination or other adverse employment actions on their use of cannabis alone.
“Impairment” is not clearly defined, but common signs of impairment include red eyes and delayed reaction times. Employers should carefully document and train managers on the signs of impairment due to marijuana.
3. A Drug-Free Workplace
Cannabis remains a controlled substance under federal law. It’s possible that the Cannabis Act will allow employers to continue to maintain drug-free work environments, including cannabis, when it’s necessary to comply with federal law. However, there’s a risk that the argument of complying with federal law may still result in a violation of the Illinois Right to Privacy Work Act.
Illinois employers need to review their drug-free work policies and drug screens to determine how, as a company, they want to handle the changing laws of marijuana usage as they apply to their workforce. There’s not a “one-size-fits-all” approach and it will vary on an employer-by-employer basis.
- How IL Marijuana Legalization Impacts Employers
- Compliance Updates
- 4 Ways to Hash It Out
- Opioids: A Giant Headache for Employers?
- Staying Safe During a Medical Marijuana Hold-Up
Information contained herein is not intended to constitute tax or legal advice and should not be used for purposes of evading or avoiding otherwise applicable regulatory responsibilities as issued by the federal or state government(s) and/or taxes owed under the Internal Revenue Code. You are encouraged to seek advice from your legal or tax advisor based on your circumstances.
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