Missouri Goes Green: What Employers Need to Know About the State’s New Medical Marijuana Law
Missouri residents recently voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. Amendment 2, the Medical Marijuana and Veteran Healthcare Services Initiative, overwhelmingly passed on November 6, 2018, amending the Missouri Constitution to allow the use of medical marijuana for any medical condition approved by a physician. Notably, voters approved Amendment 2 over two other medical marijuana measures on the ballot: Amendment 3, which would have permitted marijuana use for only specified medical conditions, and Proposition C, which was similar to Amendment 2 but would have been subject to revision or repeal by the Missouri legislature. While all three sought to legalize possessing, using, buying, and selling marijuana for medicinal reasons, Amendment 2 was the only measure that allowed for cultivating marijuana plants at home.
Amendment 2 will take effect on December 6, 2018, but it will take several months before Missouri patients will be able to purchase medical marijuana. Amendment 2 provides for the following timeline:
By June 2019, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services must have application forms and instructions available for patients and patient caregivers to use to apply for medical marijuana identification cards. The department must begin accepting these applications by July 2019 and will have 30 days to approve the application and issue the identification card or deny the application.
Also by June 2019, the department must have license application forms and instructions available for marijuana dispensaries as well as facilities for medical marijuana cultivation, storage, and/or testing. The department must begin accepting these applications by August 2019 and will have 150 days to approve the application and issue the license or deny the application.
More detailed information about application procedures and the approval process will be available after the department develops applicable rules.
Implications for Missouri Employers
Amendment 2 specifically states that it does not provide protections to employees who are under the influence of medical marijuana at work, but it is otherwise silent on whether employers can continue enforcing drug-free workplace policies. The department’s rules may shed some light on this issue. In the meantime, Missouri employers may want to keep in mind that they might have an obligation to participate in an interactive process with an employee who lawfully uses marijuana for medical purposes—even if that employee tests positive for marijuana.