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Attorney outlines employers’ rights on medical marijuana

Attorney Bill Wells talks about employers’ rights regarding workers who have medical marijuana cards. He spoke Thursday at the Mustang Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Photo / Chris Eversole

MUSTANG — Medical marijuana is making a big impact in Oklahoma, but businesses can protect themselves from some of the risks that go with it.
That was the message that Oklahoma City attorney Bill Wells delivered at the Mustang Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon, held Thursday at the Mustang Town Center.
Since voters approved medical marijuana in July 2018, more than 200,000 of the state’s 4 million residents have a card authorizing them
to use it.
The original state medical marijuana legislation stated that employers could not discriminate against workers solely based on them having a license to use it, Wells noted.
However, companies that were federal contractors were required to follow federal regulations regarding controlled substances, including marijuana, in the workplace.
“The federal law trumps state law,” Wells said.
He lobbied on behalf of the Central Oklahoma Manufacturers Association as the Legislature developed the Unity Bill that went into effect on Aug. 29.
Its “safety-sensitive exception” allows that, for certain jobs, employers may require drug testing and can fire employees who refuse a test or test positive.
They include jobs that require operating equipment, carrying a weapon, dispensing medication and caring for patients.
Employers must create drug testing
policies and make their workers aware of them, Wells said.
“The Unity Bill give you the right to control your workplace,” Wells said.
“You can still drug test like you did before.”
Employers have the right to submit positive drug tests to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission for fired workers who are seeking unemployment benefits, Well said.
“You’re not breaking the law by doing that, in my opinion,” he said.
“All you’re doing is providing the facts.
“They (the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission) are making the decision about awarding benefits.”

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