The New York Compassionate Care Act (NYCCA) protects patients who are certified to use medical marijuana from being subject to criminal or civil marijuana charges. We live in an age where some states view marijuana as a legitimate medicine for individuals with certain types of diseases while they are being treated under a doctor’s care. Individuals with such diseases are also viewed as disabled, and employers are prohibited from discriminating against them because of their disability based on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
What Employers Should Know About the New York Compassionate Care Act (NYCCA)
The New York legislature passed the NYCCA in July of 2014 and it went into effect in January 2016. The act will sunset in seven years.
Under the law, there can be no more than five manufacturers that provide medical marijuana in New York with a maximum of 20 locations.
Patients must have their physician provide them with written certification for using medical marijuana and their documentation must state the limitations of its use. They also must register with the health department. Patients may not consume medical marijuana in a public place. Other restrictions imposed by the law are that patients cannot smoke medical cannabis but have to take it in a different form.
Diseases that qualify a patient for certification include cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord damage causing spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, or Huntington’s disease. Other diseases may also result in prescribing medical marijuana.
New York State Human Rights Law
The Society for Resource Management (SHRM) points out that the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) views a certified medical marijuana patient as disabled, which also protects them from employment discrimination.
Employers can still do drug testing if that is part of their work policy and can prohibit employees who are impaired by drug use from working on the job if it poses a danger or interferes with their work. They can prohibit workers from taking medical marijuana while in the workplace. However, they cannot discriminate against employees because they are certified to use medical marijuana.
Do You Have Questions about the NYCCA and Your Rights as an Employer?
Because disabled employees who are certified for marijuana use can bring discrimination lawsuits against employers, it is vital for employers to know their legal boundaries.
Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates are glad to answer your questions and provide legal guidance or representation in disputed employment issues.