Senate Bill 749 sponsored by Senator Mensch passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee yesterday. Senate Bill 749 amends Act 16 of 2016, better known as the Medical Marijuana Act, to address any situation of impairment by an employee in the workplace.
Since marijuana is still illegal under federal law, this inconsistency has created issues for employees and employers since the guidelines for managing an employee’s use of legal prescription drugs are not applicable to medical marijuana laws in Pennsylvania.
Because of this, Senate Bill 749 will try to adhere federal provisions regarding legal drugs as closely as possible in efforts to try to be fair to employees while still ensuring workplace safety. Narrowly tailored to only apply to safety-sensitive positions, and not every job and employee in the Commonwealth, Senate Bill 749 is trying to address the positions with the most serious risk of harm in the workplace where the impairment of the employee increases danger levels.
The question of how to differentiate the presence of marijuana in an employee’s system and impairment, and how one would test or measure these levels, is an important distinction in the bill. “We are dealing with impairment and not under being the influence,” Mensch said. “It’s more than a subtle difference. It’s a very specific difference and it makes the bill, I believe, much more workable.”
This piece of legislation has been “lengthy and challenging” said Committee Chair Senator Michelle Brooks (R-Mercer), but actions will be taken in an effort to revise and ensure this crucial piece of legislation is passed for the benefit of employees and employers.
The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
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