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Alabama Legislature Approves Medical Marijuana

On May 6, 2021, the Alabama legislature approved a medical marijuana legalization bill (Senate Bill (SB) 46). The bill is headed to Governor Kay Ivey for final approval. If Governor Ivey signs the bill, it will go into effect immediately. It is currently unknown if the governor will veto the bill or sign it, but she has expressed that she intends to thoroughly review it.

The bill lists 16 medical conditions and categories of conditions for which an individual would be eligible for a medical marijuana card in Alabama. Under the bill “medical cannabis” would not include products that can be smoked and vaped or marijuana-infused food products. The products can be in the form of oral tablets, gels, oils, creams, patches, or lozenges.

The bill also does not explicitly provide for any employment protections for medical marijuana cardholders, rather it includes language that is favorable to employers.  While the bill does not contain employment protections for medical marijuana cardholders’ employers considering taking adverse employment action against those that are may want to remain mindful that cardholders may pursue disability discrimination and accommodation claims related to their marijuana use as individuals must have a qualifying medical condition to be authorized to receive a medical marijuana card, and any of the 16 medical conditions that would make an individual eligible for a card likely would be considered a disability under disability discrimination laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

HR Works will continue to monitor this legislation and provide updates as new information becomes available.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.