Benefits of a Cannabis Friendly Corporate Culture
Through our work at The Healing Clinic, we quickly learned that while the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act is a great start for Illinois patients, there is definitely room for improvement. One startling item, for example, is that the state’s cannabis laws do not protect registered cannabis patients from discrimination in the workplace. Regardless of job responsibilities, Illinois employers are allowed to terminate or deny employment to someone simply because they choose medical cannabis as a treatment option.
Is this fair? We think not.
Our sister nonprofit organization, Justice for Patients, was founded in order to protect and defend the rights of patients who are confronted with such discriminatory issues. A question we are commonly asked by patients is whether registering to use medical cannabis will affect employment; the answer is yes, it certainly could. Private employers are legally free to fire anyone who tests positive for THC, without suggestion or proof that the individual came to work in an impaired condition.
It is important to understand that THC remains in the system for days, or for heavy, long-term users even weeks, after the individual has consumed cannabis. However, the individual is only impaired for about 60-90 minutes after consumption. It is the impairment that should be of concern to employers, not consumption while off work.
Changing The Stigma Through Education
In order to combat potential workplace discrimination, we have made an effort to educate employers about medical cannabis, and convince them that drug testing for the purpose of identifying cannabis users, is a waste of funds and will likely result in the unnecessary loss of good, loyal, productive employees. We were successful in recruiting local employers from different industries (healthcare, real estate, law, food and beverage) who are willing to implement compassionate policies for medical cannabis patients. Our hope is that other employers will follow suit and adopt similar practices.
These Illinois businesses are taking the first step in building a healthy and compassionate corporate culture around medical cannabis:
- InHouse Physicians, CEO: Jonathan Spero, M.D.
- Frontline Real Estate Partners, CEO: Mitch Khan
- The Law Offices of Stuart P. Krauskopf, P.C., CEO: Stuart Krauskopf, P.C.
- Lite Chicago, CEO: Taylor Kavitt
- Universal Wellness Source, CEO: Jim Lopez
What Local Business Leaders Are Saying
“Cannabis is a natural pharmaceutical that has enormous amounts of evidence-based data supporting its therapeutic efficacy for a number of chronic and debilitating conditions. Employer discrimination against certified medical cannabis employees is equivalent to an employer discriminating against an employee who has been prescribed anti-inflammatory medication for rheumatoid arthritis or an anti-nausea medication for chemotherapy. This type of discrimination is unacceptable and as more and more employees participate in state run medical cannabis programs, it is important for employers to proactively develop reasonable and inclusive employee policies that support the use of medical cannabis in the workplace”
~ Jonathan Spero M.D., CEO of Inhouse Physicians
“I believe very strongly that the American medical culture has become pharmaceutically biased. Instead of treating ailments with the correct cure we’re treating them with what we are told is the socially acceptable cure. If medical cannabis can physically or psychologically help someone, who am I to say they can’t use it? If an employee is prescribed adderall for ADHD I’m not going to fire them, even though I know people who have overdosed on it. If a potential employee has fibromyalgia and prescribed codeine I’m not going to not hire them, even though codeine is a potentially deadly narcotic. Why would I fire or hire someone who suffers from Crohn’s disease and is certified to use medical marijuana? I’ve known people who are permanently brain damaged from taking acne medication but have never heard of anyone being seriously harmed by cannabis.”
~Taylor Kavitt, CEO of Lite Chicago
This is an exciting development for medical cannabis patients in Illinois
Which we believe will, hopefully, lead to an amended law that will protect them in the workplace. Other states have implemented such rules with positive results. Arizona, for example, does not permit employers to discriminate against legal medical cannabis users “unless a failure to do so would cause an employer to lose a monetary or licensing benefit under federal law or regulations.” This is a good model for new states to consider, as they draft either medical use or full legalization proposals.
In Colorado, where recreational use of cannabis is legal, companies are allowing, and even encouraging, consumption by their employees. Managers there say they encourage marijuana use on the job because they believe it increases productivity and creativity.
Medical cannabis is a personal choice and when people are given the freedom to choose without a fear of losing their job it could positively impact communities and companies as a whole. If cannabis is accepted as part of corporate culture, Illinois could change for the better.
Thank you to all of the passionate entrepreneurs mentioned above, who have agreed to work with The Healing Clinic and Justice For Patients in order to help us improve the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. We appreciate you!