New Mexico Enacts Employment Protections Regarding Medical Marijuana

Senate bill 406 was signed into legislation on April 4, 2019 by Governor Michelle Lujan and will take effect June 14, 2019.

This bill was enacted within the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (New Mexico's medical cannabis program) to address specific employment protections, such as the prohibition of adverse employment actions for conduct that is permitted under the Act.

A new provision has been included stating that, "unless a failure to do so would cause the employer to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law or federal regulations, it is unlawful to take an adverse employment action against an employee or job applicant based on conduct allowed under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act."

There are exceptions to the provision. Employers would still be within their rights to take adverse action against an employee for use of, or being impaired by, medical cannabis in the workplace or during working hours. The Act's protections also do not apply to an employee that works in what has been deemed a safety-sensitive position.

In an effort to maintain compliance with new legislation, employers should review and amend existing hiring practices and protocols as necessary.

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