The Louisiana state Senate voted 26-8 on Wednesday to approve a invoice that may shield public staff who use medical hashish from job discrimination. The measure, House Bill 988, was accepted by the Louisiana Home of Representatives final week and now heads to the desk of Governor John Bel Edwards for his consideration.
Underneath the invoice, public staff utilizing medical hashish with a health care provider’s suggestion and in accordance with state legislation are shielded from being fired for utilizing medical pot. The invoice additionally protects medical hashish sufferers who’re making use of for state positions from being denied employment or different job discrimination primarily based on their use of hashish.
“This may principally be a primary step to having legal guidelines on the books to guard individuals who have medical marijuana playing cards,” state Consultant Mandy Landry, the sponsor of the invoice, said last month after introducing the invoice.
The invoice doesn’t apply to personal employers or native authorities businesses, together with police and hearth departments. Landry instructed reporters that the laws was restricted to state staff to handle probably opposition from politically highly effective legislation enforcement and enterprise lobbyists within the state Capitol.
Medical Hashish an Different to Opioids in Louisiana
The Louisiana Home of Representatives accepted the invoice by a vote of 60-32 on Could 24. Whereas the invoice was up for debate within the Home, Landry instructed her colleagues that the laws would assist forestall state staff from changing into hooked on opioids, an argument that was echoed within the higher physique of the state legislature by Senator Stewart Cathey.
“There are lots of people who don’t wish to take opioids for his or her long-term PTSD and ache administration due to the excessive risk of dependancy to opioids,” Landry said when the bill came up in a House committee final month. “This has proved to be a greater possibility than them.”
The invoice confronted opposition from some lawmakers within the Home, who argued that the legislature shouldn’t be drafting coverage for state staff. Consultant Larry Frieman mentioned that such duties must be carried out by the state Division of Administration. Jacques Berry, the communications director for the company, famous that the Division of Administration has insurance policies that shield its staff that use medical hashish. However he added that the division doesn’t have the authority to create employment coverage for all state businesses.
State Consultant Ed Larvadain supported the invoice, suggesting that extra work on hashish coverage reform is but to come back.
“We’re going to have to vary how we take care of medical marijuana,” Larvadain mentioned. “However this can be a first step.”
Larvadain supplied to work with Landry sooner or later to discover a path that makes legislation enforcement officers and firefighters additionally eligible to make use of medical hashish.
“Lots of these women and men have power pains as a result of over time they’ve needed to climb via home windows and law enforcement officials have been abused,” Larvadain mentioned.
Medical hashish advocates together with Kevin Caldwell of the Marijuana Coverage Challenge additionally supported the invoice.
“The very fact is we’ve got an opioid downside that will get mentioned on this constructing on a regular basis,” Caldwell mentioned. “We’re seeing that for lots of sufferers, medical hashish is an exit technique.”
Tony Landry of the Veterans Motion Council famous that law enforcement officials and firefighters will not be in a position to take CBD due to the danger that hint quantities of THC “can accumulate in your physique over time and trigger a constructive check. I’m in favor of this invoice, and I simply suppose we have to depart no worker behind.”
Louisiana legalized medical hashish for sufferers with debilitating medical circumstances in 2015, and gross sales of medicinal weed started within the state in 2019. The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy reviews that the state has greater than 43,000 registered medical hashish sufferers. Final yr, the governor signed laws to decriminalize possession of as much as 14 grams of pot, making such offenses solely punishable by a tremendous of as much as $100.