September 28, 2021

Volume XI, Number 271

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September 27, 2021

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Registered and Authorized Medical Cannabis Patients in Puerto Rico Gain Employment Protections

Registered and authorized patients of medical cannabis in Puerto Rico are considered a protected category for purposes of all employment laws under an amendment to the “Act to Manage the Study, Development and Investigation of Cannabis for Innovation, Applicable Norms and Limitations” signed by Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi on July 29, 2021.

Under the amendment, Puerto Rico Law 15-2021, employers may not discriminate against registered and authorized patients of medical cannabis in the recruitment, hiring, designation, or termination process or when imposing disciplinary actions.

Law 15-2021 goes into effect immediately.

Exceptions

The provisions of Law 15-2021 will not protect registered and authorized patients of medical cannabis if the employer can establish, by a preponderance of evidence, that:

  1. The use of medical cannabis represents a real threat of harm or danger to others or property;

  2. The use of medical cannabis interferes with the employee’s performance and functions;

  3. Permitting the use of medical cannabis would expose the employer to the risk of losing any license, permit, or certification related to any federal law, regulation, program, or fund; or

  4. The registered and authorized patient made use of or possess medical cannabis during working time or in the workplace without the employer’s written authorization.

Employers’ Protections for Hiring Medical Cannabis Patients

Law 15-2021 protects employers that hire registered and authorized medical cannabis patients from being penalized or denied a contract, license, permit, certification, benefits, or funds under the laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Implications

The provisions of Law 15-2021 are to be interpreted liberally in favor of the registered and authorized patients of medical cannabis.

Further, the Medical Cannabis Regulatory Board and the Department of Labor and Human Resources must adopt any regulations or administrative measures to ensure the effective implementation of Law 15-2021 by October 27, 2021.

Employers should revise their drug testing and discrimination policies to comply with Law 15-2021.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2021National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 211
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About this Author

Juan Felipe Santos, Employment Attorney, Jackson Lewis Law Firm
Office Managing Principal and Office Litigation Manager

Juan Felipe Santos is the Office Managing Principal and Office Litigation Manager in the San Juan, Puerto Rico, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has successfully represented employers in litigation before federal and Puerto Rico courts, including jury trials. Before joining Jackson Lewis when it opened the Puerto Rico office in 2013, Mr. Santos worked for over 10 years in other major law firms in Puerto Rico, devoting his practice exclusively to labor and employment law.

Mr. Santos represents clients through all phases and types of federal and local labor and...

787-522-7315
Sara Colón-Acevedo, Jackson Lewis, wage hour lawyer, employment discrimination attorney, puerto rico courts legal counsel, administrative forum law
Shareholder

Sara E. Colón-Acevedo is a Shareholder in the San Juan, Puerto Rico, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice concentrates in employment discrimination and wage and hour law counseling and litigation on behalf of employers in Puerto Rico local and federal courts.

Ms. Colón-Acevedo has extensive trial experience before both federal and local courts and administrative forums in Puerto Rico. She also has experienced defending employers facing collective wage and hour class actions.

In her...

787-522-7310
Karla Carrillo-Russe Associate San Juan General Employment Litigation
Associate

Karla Carrillo-Russe is an Associate in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses in litigating employment matters before state courts as well as providing clients with preventive advice and counseling.

Ms. Carrillo-Russe advises and represents clients in a broad range of employment matters, including claims of discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, reasonable accommodation issues, retaliation, and wage and hour claims, among others.

787-522-7308
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