Medical marijuana has been one of the hottest topics over the past year.  In 2015 Minnesota enacted legislation that allowed patients access to medical marijuana.  On July 1, 2015 the first patient filled his prescription for medical marijuana.  What does the legal use of marijuana mean for businesses in Minnesota? 


Limitations of the Minnesota medical marijuana statute.


In Minnesota, only medical marijuana that is used to treat specific conditions is protected.  The Minnesota medical marijuana statute lays out the parameters for medical marijuana.  According to the statute, medical marijuana in almost any for is permitted.  Delivery methods include pill, liquid (including but not limited to oil), vapor, and any other delivery method approved by the commissioner of health, except smoking.  The list of conditions permitted to be treated with medical marijuana is limited to nine, but can be expanded.  The commissioner of health can approve additional conditions through a specific petition process.  Finally, the statute provides protections for patients using medical marijuana.  Protections against housing discrimination, discrimination regarding access to schools, and employment discrimination, are all laid out. 


You need a policy.


Just like medical marijuana, Minnesota provides legislation regulating workplace alcohol and drug testing.  In Minnesota an employers are prohibited from workplace alcohol and drug test unless they have an alcohol and drug testing policy.  Alcohol and drug testing policies must specify what employees/applicants are subject to testing, the circumstances where a drug test may be required or requested, the employee/applicant’s right to refuse a test and any consequences of refusal, consequences/disciplinary actions taken in response to a positive test, the employee/applicant’s right to explain a positive test or request a retest, and any other appeal process that is available.  Last, written notice of the policy must be given to all affected employees and applicants. 


Patients are protected.


Under Minnesota law, employers are generally not permitted to discriminate against employees or applicants based on the employee or applicant’s enrollment in the medical marijuana registry, or related positive drug test results.  If an employee provides proof of valid medical marijuana registration, it should be accepted as adequate justification for any positive finding.  Exceptions are limited to certain situations where hiring such an employee would substantially interfere with the employer’s business.


Tying it all together.


In order to test employees for alcohol or drugs you must provide applicable employees with a copy of your alcohol and drug testing policy.  Your policy must meet specific statutory conditions for it to be valid.  Employees that test positive are afforded an opportunity to explain any positive findings and request a confirmatory test.  If an employee is a registered user of medical marijuana, their use is generally protected from employment discrimination.  As an employer, the first step is to instate an alcohol and drug testing policy that meets the statutory requirements.  For help constructing, or updating, your drug and alcohol testing policy the attorneys at Loop Legal can help.