Virginia Passes Two Laws Pertaining to Employment and Cannabis

House Bill 2312 (Senate Bill 1406) and House Bill 1862 both include terms regarding the legalization of marijuana and the prohibition of disciplinary actions by employers.

House Bill 2312/Senate Bill 1406

Effective on July 1, 2021, recreational marijuana will be legalized in Virginia, permitting individuals 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. The law also allows households to cultivate up to four marijuana plants. Per the new law, employers are permitted to prohibit the presence of marijuana on their premises and are also within the boundaries of the law to fire employees who are impaired at work as a result of marijuana use.

House Bill 1862

This new law prohibits the discipline, discharge or discrimination by employers against employees who lawfully use cannabis oil. A valid written certification by a practitioner substantiating the employee's treatment needs for cannabis oil must be provided to the employer. The law does clarify that employers are still permitted to take adverse employment action if the employee's performance is impaired by use of cannabis oil. Employers may also prohibit possession of cannabis oil during work hours.

Under the law, Virginia employers staffing individuals lawfully using cannabis oil are not required to engage in any conduct that could:

  • violate federal law;
  • generate the loss of federal contracts or federal funding; and/or
  • hire or retain applicants or employees in the defense industrial base sector who test positive for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in excess of the pre-determined limits for both urine and hair tests.

As these new Virginia laws take effect, employers are encouraged to review internal drug and substance abuse policies.

Posted: May 3, 2021

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