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420 with CNW — Maryland Legislators Consider Bills Against Workplace Discrimination for Cannabis Users

Legislative committees in Maryland’s state House of Delegates and Senate convened last week to deliberate on proposed measures aimed at shielding workers from repercussions due to off-duty marijuana use. The bills’ essence lies in shifting the burden of proof onto employers, requiring them to demonstrate on-the-job impairment before taking disciplinary action against an employee.

Introduced as SB 513 by Senator Alonzo Washington and as HB 525 by Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins, both bills share near-identical language. The Finance Committee in the Senate heard testimonies on SB 513 on Thursday, while the House’s Economic Matters Committee followed suit with HB 525 a day later. Although no immediate action was taken, extensive testimony was provided by stakeholders, the public and the bills’ sponsors.

Washington underscored the bill’s aim to safeguard employees’ rights in light of Maryland’s legalization of marijuana. Support for the proposal was often cast as a logical step forward, given the state’s legal framework. Organizations such as firefighter associations lent their support, advocating for the protection of members’ rights to off-duty cannabis use.

However, critics voiced concerns regarding potential implications for public safety, suggesting that identifying and addressing impaired workers might become more challenging. Delegate Jesse Pippy expressed surprise at firefighter endorsement of the bill, prompting Wilkins to emphasize the proposal’s focus on better assessing on-the-job impairment.

Despite assurances from supporters, doubts lingered regarding the reliability of methods for gauging impairment.

Numerous speakers, including civil rights groups, professional groups and state officials, testified in support of the bill. NaShona Kess from the Maryland NAACP highlighted the bill’s significance for marginalized communities disproportionately affected by discriminatory employment practices related to cannabis offenses. Further, Cleveland Horton from the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights echoed support for the bill, emphasizing its importance in promoting fairness and equity in employment practices.

Advocates from the Cannabis Policy Project and NORML also provided testimony, stressing the bill’s role in protecting civil liberties and maintaining workplace safety. They cited studies showing no adverse impact on workplace performance due to off-duty cannabis use.

The bill does not prohibit employers from testing for impairment but aims to prevent unjust consequences for employees who use marijuana legally outside of work hours.

Across the country, as cannabis legalization gains momentum, discussions on marijuana-related employment policies have become increasingly prevalent. In Ohio, for instance, Cleveland mayor Justin M. Bibb announced updates to the city’s drug-testing policies to align with modern practices and remove barriers to hiring related to marijuana use.

These bills are a progressive step that the wider cannabis industry, including companies such as Canopy Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: CGC) (TSX: WEED), is likely to welcome as it allows employees who wish to consume marijuana during their off-duty hours to do so.

About CNW420

CNW420 spotlights the latest developments in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry through the release of an article each business day at 4:20 p.m. Eastern – a tribute to the time synonymous with cannabis culture. The concise, informative content serves as a gateway for investors interested in the legalized cannabis sector and provides updates on how regulatory developments may impact financial markets. If marijuana and the burgeoning industry surrounding it are on your radar, CNW420 is for you! Check back daily to stay up-to-date on the latest milestones in the fast -changing world of cannabis.

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