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Louisiana Senate Approves Bill Allowing Public Employees to Use Medical Pot

The Louisiana state Senate voted 26-8 on Wednesday to approve a invoice that may shield public staff who use medical hashish from job discrimination. The measure, Home Invoice 988, was authorised by the Louisiana Home of Representatives final week and now heads to the desk of Governor John Bel Edwards for his consideration.

Underneath the invoice, public staff utilizing medical hashish with a physician’s advice and in accordance with state regulation are protected against being fired for utilizing medical pot. The invoice additionally protects medical hashish sufferers who’re making use of for state positions from being denied employment or different job discrimination primarily based on their use of hashish.

“This is able to principally be a primary step to having legal guidelines on the books to guard individuals who have medical marijuana playing cards,” state Consultant Mandy Landry, the sponsor of the invoice, mentioned final month after introducing the invoice.

The invoice doesn’t apply to personal employers or native authorities companies, together with police and hearth departments. Landry instructed reporters that the laws was restricted to state staff to deal with seemingly opposition from politically highly effective regulation enforcement and enterprise lobbyists within the state Capitol.

Medical Hashish an Various to Opioids in Louisiana

The Louisiana Home of Representatives authorised the invoice by a vote of 60-32 on Could 24. Whereas the invoice was up for debate within the Home, Landry instructed her colleagues that the laws would assist forestall state staff from turning into hooked on opioids, an argument that was echoed within the higher physique of the state legislature by Senator Stewart Cathey.

“There are lots of people who don’t wish to take opioids for his or her long-term PTSD and ache administration due to the excessive risk of dependancy to opioids,” Landry mentioned when the invoice got here up in a Home committee final month. “This has proved to be a greater possibility than them.”

The invoice confronted opposition from some lawmakers within the Home, who argued that the legislature shouldn’t be drafting coverage for state staff. Consultant Larry Frieman mentioned that such duties ought to be carried out by the state Division of Administration. Jacques Berry, the communications director for the company, famous that the Division of Administration has insurance policies that shield its staff that use medical hashish. However he added that the division doesn’t have the authority to create employment coverage for all state companies.

State Consultant Ed Larvadain supported the invoice, suggesting that extra work on hashish coverage reform is but to return.

“We’re going to have to vary how we take care of medical marijuana,” Larvadain mentioned. “However this can be a first step.”

Larvadain provided to work with Landry sooner or later to discover a path that makes regulation enforcement officers and firefighters additionally eligible to make use of medical hashish.

“A number of these women and men have power pains as a result of through the years they’ve needed to climb via home windows and law enforcement officials have been abused,” Larvadain mentioned.

Medical hashish advocates together with Kevin Caldwell of the Marijuana Coverage Undertaking additionally supported the invoice.

“The very fact is we now have an opioid downside that will get mentioned on this constructing on a regular basis,” Caldwell mentioned. “We’re seeing that for lots of sufferers, medical hashish is an exit technique.”

Tony Landry of the Veterans Motion Council famous that law enforcement officials and firefighters are usually not capable of take CBD due to the chance that hint quantities of THC “can accumulate in your physique over time and trigger a constructive check. I’m in favor of this invoice, and I simply suppose we have to go away no worker behind.”

Louisiana legalized medical hashish for sufferers with debilitating medical circumstances in 2015, and gross sales of medicinal weed started within the state in 2019. The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy studies that the state has greater than 43,000 registered medical hashish sufferers. Final 12 months, the governor signed laws to decriminalize possession of as much as 14 grams of pot, making such offenses solely punishable by a advantageous of as much as $100.