HR Management & Compliance

Medical marijuana law takes effect in Connecticut Oct. 1

by Jonathan C. Sterling

As of October 1, Connecticut employers need to make sure they’re in compliance with the state’s new medical marijuana law.

Under the law, employers of one or more employees are prohibited from refusing to hire, discharging, penalizing, or threatening an employee solely on the basis of his status as a “qualifying patient” or “primary caregiver” under the medical marijuana law.

A qualifying patient is defined as a person over 18 who is a resident of Connecticut and has been diagnosed as having one of the conditions stipulated in the law.

A primary caregiver is a person other than the qualifying patient and the patient’s physician who is 18 or older and has agreed to undertake responsibility for managing the patient’s well-being with respect to the use of marijuana. The need for a primary caregiver must be evaluated by the qualifying patient’s physician and documented in the written certification.

Although the law allows people with certain medical conditions to use marijuana, it doesn’t restrict an employer’s ability to prohibit the use of intoxicating substances during work hours or discipline an employee for being under the influence of intoxicating substances during work hours.

To qualify for protection under the law, a patient needs to be diagnosed by a physician as having one of the following conditions: cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or posttraumatic stress disorder. Patients also have to be at least 18 years old, not imprisoned, and residents of Connecticut.

In addition to the conditions already included in the law, a board of physicians will make recommendations to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection regarding additional medical conditions, treatments, or diseases to be added to the list of medical conditions that qualify for marijuana use.

For more information on this new law, see the lead article in the July 2012 issue of Connecticut Employment Law Letter.

Jonathan C. Sterling is an employment law attorney with JordenBurt LLP in Simsbury and an editor of Connecticut Employment Law Letter.