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A new law in Virginia will affect employers moving forward. As of July 1st, employers are prohibited from disciplining employees who use cannabis oil for medical reasons. It’s essential to know how this will affect management and hiring for employees in Virginia. Here is a quick overview so you can start your research and know your rights as an employer.

The Code

The Virginia Code 40.1-27.4 reads:

“No employer shall discharge, discipline, or discriminate against an employee for such employee’s lawful use of cannabis oil pursuant to a valid written certification issued by a practitioner for the treatment or to eliminate the symptoms of the employee’s diagnosed condition or disease pursuant to § 54.1-3408.3.”

However, it further states that it doesn’t restrict employers from taking adverse employment action should there be impairment at work caused by the use of cannabis oil or regarding possession of the oil while on the clock.

How Will This Affect Employers?

The law also indicates that it will not require employers to commit acts that would cause them to violate federal law. This is particularly important for companies that work with federal contracts or federal funding. Overall, the new law means that employers can no longer discharge or discipline employees for using cannabis oil for medicinal use as long as it does not negatively affect their performance or they are not in possession of it while on the job.

What Do You Need to Know When Hiring?

The new law does not provide guidance regarding the use of cannabis oil during working hours if it’s required as a reasonable accommodation by a doctor for an employee’s disability. That’s something to keep in mind regarding hiring and any possible violation of the ADA in the process. While the law states that employers aren’t required to act in violation of federal law, it doesn’t specify if federal contractors who work in a drug-free workplace are exempt from the provision.

Can Marijuana Use Be Considered Illegal Under Federal Law?

This is where it gets tricky. While federally, marijuana use is still considered illegal, states decriminalizing or legalizing its use are in a legal gray area. In the case of Virginia, they are very explicitly talking about cannabis oil, not the use of other types of marijuana. And requirements will be different for companies with federal contracts.

Do you want to know more about compliance?

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