Employers Deal With Medical Marijuana Issue

Employers Deal With Medical Marijuana Issue
Posted by CN Staff on October 27, 2005 at 06:58:10 PT
By Alex Paul, For the Gazette-Times
Source: Gazette-Times 
Oregon -- The number of Oregonians carrying a medical marijuana card is growing each year and more than ever employers are finding themselves walking a fine line between their companies’ drug-use policies and Oregon law.Oregon employers and medical marijuana card holders await a November Court of Appeals decision about whether companies must accommodate employees with marijuana in their system. The decision stems from a lawsuit brought by a former employee of Columbia Forest Products in Klamath Falls.
The employee had obtained a medical marijuana card in 1999 and was later fired after a urine test indicated the presence of THC, the active chemical in marijuana. The lawsuit contends a positive drug test based on a urine sample doesn’t prove the employee used or had marijuana at the workplace. A blood test is a more accurate measuring tool.Another factor being considered is what constitutes “reasonable accommodations.”On Nov. 15, mid-valley employers can learn more about the issue during a free workshop, “Medical Marijuana in the Workplace,” from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Phoenix Inn, 3410 Spicer Road S.E.“This has been building for the last couple years,” said Jerry Gjesvold, employer services manager for Eugene-based Serenity Lane Treatment Center, and a workshop speaker. “The number of medical marijuana cards in Oregon is now up to more than 11,000. In the past, it was mostly people who weren’t working, or were working on a limited basis. That’s changing every day.”At least 20 employers with whom Gjesvold works have had employees test positive for marijuana and then presented a medical marijuana card.“Without a written policy, employers can’t just fire them,” Gjesvold said. “Employees have an obligation to notify their employers about this. Perhaps, the employer can provide someone who has a card with a job that doesn’t put employees, or the employer, at risk.”“This is not a federal issue, it’s a state issue,” Gjesvold said. “There is no known science-based information on the affect of THC ... when it’s in a person’s urine. An employer has to be able to prove impairment on the part of the employee and that’s not easy.”Gjesvold said he is encouraging employers at least to put some plan of action into their employee handbook. If there is nothing written down, benefit of the doubt will almost certainly lean toward the employee, Gjesvold said.“When this law was first considered, no one expected more than 11,000 cards to be issued,” Gjesvold said.Workshop speakers in addition to Gjesvold will be Paula Barran, an attorney and fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, who will address how legal issues affect company substance-abuse policies; and Rick Howell, Columbia Forest Products, director of organizational development and human resources, who will talk about the Portland-based company’s experience with medical marijuana in the workplace.The workshop is sponsored by WorkSource Oregon, the Region 4 Workforce Investment Board and Workdrugfree. To register email:  sisom or call 758-2642.By the numbers• Oregonians who have medical marijuana cards: 11,100• Benton County, 131; Linn County, 281; Marion County, 467; Lane County, 1,442• Caregivers with cards for patients: 5,406• Pending applications as of July 1: 663• Oregon-licensed physicians who have signed card applications: 1,946Source: Corvallis Gazette-Times (OR)Author: Alex Paul, For the Gazette-TimesPublished: Thursday, October 27, 2005Copyright: 2005 Lee EnterprisesContact: alex.paul lee.netWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on October 28, 2005 at 06:47:12 PT
Related Article: The Thin Green Line
The Thin Green Line: Employers And Medical Marijuana    *** October 28, 2005 Portland, Oregon - This guest opinion is by Portland attorney Paula Barran, a partner in the firm of Barran Leibman. Barran wrote this guest opinion for Workdrugfree, a contractor for the Oregon Department of Human Services. Barran will participate in a free employer workshop on this subject in Albany on Nov. 15; registration information is at the end of this guest opinion.Complete Article:
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