Friday, August 19, 2022

Cannabis Users In Illinois To Get Workplace Protection Under New Bill

The Prairie State legalized the sale of medical cannabis in 2015 and expanded legalization to recreational marijuana in 2020.

By Jelena Martinovic

People in Illinois who enjoy or need cannabis no longer have to fear being fired as a new bill recently approved by the state’s House of Representatives seeks to prohibit most employers from letting go of workers or discriminating against job applicants for testing positive for marijuana use.

The workplace protection legislation, sponsored by Rep. Bob Morgan (D), is now headed to the Senate, Marijuana Moment reported.

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After being approved by the House Labor and Commerce Committee a day earlier, the lawmakers passed an amended version of Morgan’s bill, HB 4116, on a 61–41 vote.

“If we’re going to legalize the substance, you should talk about individual liberties and what people want to do on their weekends,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bob Morgan (D), told local NBC affiliate WGEM before the vote. “We should allow people to make good choices and not be discriminated against in the workplace because of those choices as long as it’s not affecting the workplace.”

The amended bill protects workers who use lawful products off the job during nonworking hours and when the employee is not on call.

However, some exceptions exist for certain categories of employees, including workers who operate heavy machinery or aircraft, carry a weapon, perform emergency services or perform other safety-sensitive tasks, as well as workers at entities that are contractors of the federal Department of Transportation.

Furthermore, employers are allowed to fire employees for being impaired by marijuana while at work.

The Prairie State legalized the sale of medical cannabis in 2015 and expanded legalization to recreational marijuana in 2020.

RELATED: DC Approves Bill Preventing Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing

In 2021, adult-use cannabis sales in the state amounted to nearly $1.4 billion – more than double the figure from the opening year of sales in 2020. Combined with medical cannabis sales, the total marijuana sales reached $1.78 billion, representing an increase of 72% from 2020.

Interestingly, Illinois also took in more tax dollars from cannabis receipts than alcohol in 2021, as recreational cannabis taxes in the state exceeded liquor taxes by nearly $100 million, according to an update released by the Illinois Department of Revenue.

RELATED: Will Drug Testing For Weed Eventually Disappear Forever?

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D.C. Workers To Avoid Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing

In the meantime, similar legislation in Washington, D.C., is poised to ban pre-employment marijuana testing.

Sponsored by Councilmember Trayon White (D), the proposal approved by the Labor & Workforce Development Committee last week will most workplaces from subjecting job applicants to the procedure.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.

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