Last November, Florida voters overwhelmingly voted to amend the Florida Constitution to permit the use of medical marijuana. The constitutional amendment went into effect on January 3, 2017, and required regulations to be implemented no later than July 3, 2017. On June 9, 2017, the Florida Senate passed a bill relating to medical use of marijuana, and Governor Rick Scott signed it on June 23, 2017, rendering it effective.

“Qualifying Conditions” under the medical marijuana law include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic nonmalignant pain, and comparable medical conditions. The law provides that “medical use” does not include possession, use, or administration of marijuana that was not purchased or acquired from a medical marijuana treatment center. The law also also does not permit smoking of medical marijuana; instead, medical marijuana products can be consumed as edibles, vaping, oils, sprays or tinctures. Florida and national news outlets have already reported that legal challenges to the law are likely, specifically with respect to the prohibition against smoking marijuana.

Significantly, the law includes several employer-friendly provisions:

  • The term “medical use” does not include use at a qualified patient’s place of employment, except when permitted by his or her employer.
  • The law does not limit the ability of an employer “to establish, continue, or enforce a drug-free workplace program or policy.”
  • Employers are not required to “accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace or any employee working while under the influence of marijuana.”
  • Medical marijuana is not reimbursable under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law.
  • Most significantly, the law “does not create a cause of action against an employer for wrongful discharge or discrimination.”

Florida employers should review their drug and alcohol policies to determine whether any revisions are needed to comply with the new law.