Cannabis Patient Employment Protection Bill Introduced in Hawaii

Lawmakers in Hawaii have proposed hiring and firing protections for medical cannabis patients; the bill would not extend to certain professions, including law enforcement officers, emergency medical workers, and others.

Full story after the jump.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering a measure to protect medical cannabis patients from being fired or from hiring discrimination, Hawaii Public Radio reports. The legislation allows employers to use a fit-for-duty test as a tool to assess medical cannabis users in potentially dangerous jobs.

The measure excludes several professions from the protections, including law enforcement, corrections and water safety officers, firefighters, emergency medical workers and other health care employees who might administer drugs to patients, employees who work with children, seniors or other vulnerable populations, employees who operate heavy equipment, and most truck employees or drivers.

The Department of Safety opposes the reforms, citing the federal status of cannabis as a Schedule I drug and federal rules barring anyone who uses cannabis from possessing firearms or ammunition. The measure is also opposed by shipping company Matson, which currently has a zero-tolerance cannabis policy for both on- and off-duty employees. Matson told HPR that their operations “involve the use of heavy machinery, which if used incorrectly or under the influence of an intoxicant can cause death or serious bodily injury.”

A similar measure was introduced in the Hawaii Senate last year, but it was never moved out of committee. The measure has already been approved by the chamber’s Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health, and Judiciary committees with some amendments, the report says. It is expected to move to the full floor for a vote before heading to the House.

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