2018 May POINT!

“Medical” Marijuana SQ Will Negatively Impact Businesses

T he Board of Directors of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber recently voted to oppose State Question 788, the so-called medical marijuana bill that would potentially prevent employers from operating a drug-free workplace. The Chamber has joined the Anti-SQ788 coalition to defeat the proposal at the polls in June. SQ 788 would allow any Oklahoma Board-certified physician—which includes veterinarians, dentists and chiropractors—to prescribe a medical marijuana license for two years. Instead of having specific requirements for what constitutes a medical need for a license, the threshold for justifying a prescription is extremely low. A patient only needs to “articulate a medical need” to qualify, so patients who say they occasionally get headaches would qualify for a two-year license. “Simply put, State Question 788 is NOT a medical marijuana law,” said Roy H. Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “It is poorly written public policy that would enact one of the most liberal marijuana laws in the nation. Particularly concerning to the Chamber are the restrictions that it

would place on Oklahoma’s businesses.” Under the language of SQ 788, the ability for most employers to be a drug-free workplace would be questioned, if not outright abolished. SQ 788 states that employers “may not discriminate against a person in hiring, termination…or otherwise penalize a person based upon status as a medical marijuana license holder” or “based upon the results of a drug test showing positive for marijuana or its components.” The only exception to the above mandate is unless it would “cause an employer to imminently lose a monetary or licensing- related benefit under federal law.” In addition to the logistical and legal nightmare that SQ 788 would generate if passed, employers should also expect workers’ compensation rates to increase. In at least five states where medical marijuana is legal, it is treated as a permissible workers’ compensation treatment that requires insurer reimbursement. It is natural to expect on-the-job claims for injuries to increase if it becomes a way to pay for marijuana usage. The proposal essentially creates a special class of citizen that cannot be discriminated against for those

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