The state of Illinois has passed a series of bills related to both medical and recreational use of marijuana. With the new law effective since January 1, 2020, it’s important for staffing firms to understand the impact this will have on them.
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 • Autism • Irritable bowel syndrome • Migraines • Osteoarthritis 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 not under the influence at work cannot be subject to termination or other adverse employment actions on their use of cannabis alone.
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.
For more information, download our white paper How IL Marijuana Legalization Impacts Employers and also be sure to reach out to a member of the ‘A’ Team for further assistance.
WRITTEN BY: KIM JARBOE Kim is a Compliance Advocate on the Assurance benefits team. She specializes in creating highly personalized relationships with clients to help navigate them through their compliance concerns. By understanding client needs and how healthcare laws are structured, she empowers clients and Assurance staff with everything they need to know about legislative issues surrounding HIPAA, Cafeteria Plans, HSAs, the ACA and more.