H3195 – Providing Employee Protections, by Bill Flynn

Testimony

From Bill Flynn

For

The Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy

On H. 3195, Sponsored by Representative Denise Provost

Providing Employee Protections

 

Chairwoman Jehlen, Chairman Cusack, and members of the Committee, my name is Bill Flynn. I am the President of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition/NORML. Thank you for this opportunity to present some remarks about H3195, An Act to Improve Taxation and Regulation of Marijuana, Sponsored by the honorable Representative Denise Provost.

 

Chapter 334, also known as Q4, allows for the legal possession and use of Marijuana by people over the age of 21, and establishes a regulatory structure to oversee the new industry. It does not however, provide any employment protections for adults in the Commonwealth who partake of Cannabis during their off-duty hours.

 

This means that a person who drinks alcohol during off-duty hours is treated differently from a person who chooses to use a much safer, and now legal, substance: marijuana. This is discriminatory.

 

Many industries test their employees for substances that, understandably, must not be used while on the job, including cannabis. These same industries have strict rules about the use of cannabis and alcohol while on duty, and rightly so. However, the most common method used to detect cannabis use, the urine test, does not indicate current use. It will register positive, and trigger employment penalties including dismissal, up to 30 days after a person has ingested marijuana, despite the fact that the psychotropic effects of such use end in 4-8 hours after ingestion.

 

H3195 allows for an employer to set policy regarding off-duty use of cannabis “provided that the employer maintains employment practices regarding adult off-duty consumption of marijuana that is treated equal to the their employment practices regarding adult off-duty of consumption of alcoholic beverages, unless the employer proves that equal treatment in such activities would cause loss of monetary benefit under federal law or regulations.

 

In other words, employers must treat alcohol use and marijuana use the same, unless it would cause financial losses due to federal rules. This simply provides fair and equal treatment for adults using their chosen legal substance in their off-duty private lives, whether it be Cannabis (Marijuana) or Alcohol. Marijuana would be treated exactly the same as alcohol.

 

This is simply right and fair. People should not be losing their jobs for an off-duty activity that is now legal and does not affect their on-duty performance of a job.

 

Thank for allowing me to speak. I urge you to take a serious look at H3195. It is a bill that would greatly improve the regulation of the new Cannabis industry.