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May-June-2015

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24 PalletCentral • May-June 2015 palletcentral.com t has finally reached the tipping point. On April 16, 2015, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law a bill legalizing the use of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes. In doing so, Georgia became the 26th state (27, if you count Washington, DC) to support legalized use of medical marijuana in some or all forms. In addition, four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington) and the District of Columbia have now legalized recreational marijuana use. On the federal scene, in an unusual bipartisan effort, members of Congress have introduced legislation to remove marijuana from being classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, and would reclassify it as a Schedule II substance. The Controlled Substances Act currently places marijuana along with heroin and LSD under Schedule I as a substance with "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." The "Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act of 2015 (S. 683 and HR 1538) was introduced by, among others: presidential hopeful Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in the Senate and Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Steve Cohen (D-TN) in the House. If enacted, the bill would reschedule marijuana. All of this action around the legal use of marijuana has placed workplace substance abuse prevention programs, drug testing policies, and safety/human resource management in a quandary. In some cases, employers may currently have uniform practices and policies across multiple states where they have operations but must soon scrutinize whether these policies still pass legal muster. They must also grapple with safety issues, including OSHA's ability to cite an employer under its "General Duty Clause" if a worker is impaired by drugs or alcohol while at work and is involved in an accident case. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a key decision confirming that marijuana remained an illegal drug under federal law no matter what state laws said (Gonzalez v. Raich). How long that will remain binding precedent is anyone's guess. The states have not helped matters by creating a crazy quilt of safe harbors and nuances in each unique statute. Compounding the confusion are laws applicable to commercial drivers (CDL) under the U.S. Department of Transportation SAFETY I Has Your Substance Abuse Prevention Program Gone Up in Smoke? By Adele L. Abrams, Esq., CMSP Medical & Recreational Marijuana:

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