Saturday, July 13, 2019
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law on July 2, 2019 the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act (“CUMCA”) to expand patient access to medical marijuana and to reform the State’s medical marijuana program. The law amends the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, N.J.S.A. 24:61-2 et seq., (and changes its name to the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act). The CUMCA makes several substantive changes to New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, including providing job protections to medical marijuana users and creating new drug testing procedures. The law took effect upon signing.
Prior to this amendment, the CUMCA did not explicitly require employers to accommodate medical marijuana use, and provided that nothing in the law required an employer to accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana. However, recent New Jersey case law suggested that New Jersey’s anti-discrimination statute, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, may require employers to accommodate medical marijuana use to treat a disability. See Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc., 458 N.J. Super. 416 (App. Div. 2019), which we blogged about here.
The CUMCA, as amended, endorses the New Jersey Appellate Division’s decision in Wild. The CUMCA now expressly prohibits an employer from taking any adverse employment action against a medical marijuana user if that adverse employment action is “based solely on the employee’s status” as a medical marijuana patient. An “adverse employment action” is defined by the law as “refusing to hire or employ an individual, barring or discharging an individual from employment, requiring an individual to retire from employment, or discriminating against an individual in compensation or in any terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.”
However, the amendment does not “restrict an employer’s ability to prohibit or take adverse employment action for the possession or use