JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri voters legalized medical marijuana in 2018, but some lawmakers are worried about what that could mean for the workplace.
Sen. David Sater, R-Casseville, has sponsored Senate Bill 610, which would allow employers to terminate employees if a drug test showed THC in their system. He said employers should be concerned about those under the influence in the workplace, especially those operating heavy machinery.
Tom Robbins, a consultant for the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, said the bill might be unconstitutional because it discriminates against those who need medical marijuana.
“The test set out in here is not the test that accomplishes the intended goal, which is to keep impaired people out of the workplace; this just keeps qualified patients out of the workplace,” Robbins said.
Robbins said a positive/negative test would be too ambiguous, as THC can stay in one’s system for an extended amount of time after use. According to the American Addiction Centers, “Typically, THC is detectable for up to 90 days in hair, anywhere between 3 days to a month or longer in urine (depending on how often the person uses), up to 48 hours in saliva and up to 36 hours in blood.”
Missouri has not legalized the use of recreational marijuana, and some said passing this bill may be essential in preparing for future marijuana legislation.
“We know that recreational marijuana is probably coming at some point in the next year, two years, decade, so we know we want to get ahead of this and make sure we have a safe workplace for our workers across the state,” said Matthew Panik, the vice president of governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Sater sponsored the same bill, SB 227, last year, but it did not pass. In Thursday’s hearing, Sater emphasized an employer may administer a drug test but is not required to do so. He said it covers a “gray area” in marijuana legislation.