SB 46: Protecting Employment for Medical Cannabis Cardholders
This bill passed the House 68-4 and passed the Senate 26-1.
Levi Coleman is an Ogden firefighter and paramedic who was placed on unpaid leave for failing to surrender his medical cannabis card in the summer of 2021. In return, he sued the Ogden Fire Department for failing to comply with Utah’s Medical Cannabis Act. And now, the legislature wants to make their intent for the act crystal clear to employers across the state: employers cannot discriminate against medical cannabis cardholders.
Senator Daniel Thatcher is sponsoring Senate Bill 46 in order to accomplish this. The current law already says employers shall treat employee use of medical cannabis in the same way they treat prescribed controlled substances. But SB 46 goes further to clarify they must treat the “status as a medical cannabis cardholder” or “cannabis recommendation” in the same way they treat an employee’s prescription for any controlled substance. This is because Coleman was not put on leave for cannabis use, but rather the fact that he had an active medical cannabis card.
A doctor recommended a medical cannabis card to help treat Coleman’s chronic back pain. And so long as the cannabis is not interfering with his daily tasks or duties, mere employer knowledge of his card should not be enough to place him on leave. Senator Thatcher’s bill will protect people like Coleman in the future to ensure they aren’t discriminated against for having an alternative medicine recommendation.