TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Floridians have been legally prescribed medical marijuana since 2017, but there’s nothing in state law that prohibits employers from discriminating against patients.
Advocates are hoping 2021 will bring employment protections for the state’s nearly half-million medical marijuana patients.
Megan Kahn graduated with a degree in social work last year. She got her professional license soon after and, around the same time, was prescribed medical marijuana. Then she got a job offer in her field.
“I sent in all my documentation. I sent in a picture of my card and my prescription. Everything,” said Kahn.
But the job offer was revoked when THC showed up in her drug test.
“This is a clear cut case of medical discrimination,” said Josephine Cannella-Krehl, founder of MMJ Knowledge.
The employer allegedly reported her as an “impaired clinician.”
Kahn was told she would have to complete a yearlong rehabilitation program or lose her license.
“I can’t even drink alcohol. It’s abstinence completely,” said Kahn.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried said medical marijuana employment discrimination is affecting almost every industry.
“We need to start to realize this is a medicine and people are taking it for medical benefits and they should not be discriminated against inside of their workforce,” said Fried.
Employment protection legislation was filed in the Florida Legislature last year but never got a committee hearing.
Advocates hope lawmakers will see it differently this year, with more than 600,000 unemployed Floridians looking to rejoin the workforce.
For now, Kahn and other patients will have to choose between their medicine and their livelihoods.
“It’s really hard to know that, with people doing things legally, people are still being treated like criminals, still losing employment and being discriminated against,” said Kahn.
Kahn has found an employer willing to work with her, but she still has to complete the rehab program to save her license.
Capitol News Service reached out to the Florida Department of Health and asked what, if any, rule or policy it has concerning medical marijuana patients and their ability to hold professional licenses but had not received a response as of publication.