Lifestyle

Illinois medical marijuana, exploding since legalization, still costs some their jobs; cards up 30% in past year


CHICAGO (WLS) — Medical marijuana is extra fashionable than ever in Illinois, even if leisure marijuana has been authorized for greater than a yr. In truth, knowledge signifies the spike in medical marijuana utilization could also be due to leisure marijuana, which is taxed at a a lot greater fee.

But it surely’s additionally a useful resource for docs and sufferers scuffling with continual circumstances and seeking to keep away from utilizing opiates.

“My thought course of is, should you can cut back opiates, if you can begin dwelling your life extra, then it is a fantastic medicine,” stated Dr. Rahul Khare, Revolutionary Specific Care.

Some docs insist the rise in medical marijuana shoppers displays rising demand for efficient and legit ache therapies; Khare stated he has licensed greater than 13,000 Illinoisans for medical marijuana within the final 5 years.

In keeping with the newest statewide knowledge, continual ache and post-traumatic stress dysfunction prime the checklist of causes to acquire a medical marijuana card. The report additionally notes the state noticed a bounce of greater than 30% within the variety of new sufferers signing up for an Illinois hashish card in 2021, with the most important share of latest sufferers between the ages of 31 and 40.

However medical and leisure marijuana shoppers face a standard dilemma: doubtlessly dropping their jobs for utilizing a authorized substance.

“How will we shield workers who’re utilizing this authorized substance when it stays of their system for as much as 30 days?” stated Rep. Bob Morgan (D-IL 58), one of many unique architects of the state’s medical marijuana legislation. “So, this isn’t a brand new subject, however actually is far larger now that we’ve got a bigger pool of people in Illinois who’re legally utilizing the substance.”

Some firms proceed to implement a zero tolerance coverage for all workers who take a look at constructive for marijuana on drug checks, even when they’ve a medical marijuana card.

“They really employed me after which they fired me,” stated Cindy Andere.

The 35-year-old is a registered nurse and a registered medical marijuana affected person. In August, she deliberate to start out a brand new job at Silver Cross Surgical procedure Heart in New Lenox, however acquired a letter from them informing her she failed their drug screening, which they stated is a situation of her employment.

“They handled me like I used to be a prison,” Andere stated. “They handled me, they made me really feel like I used to be a junkie.”

Andere suffers from a Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue dysfunction that causes debilitating continual ache. She is prescribed medical hashish for the ache, and she or he stated she solely makes use of it when she’s off the clock.

“It offers me, I believe truthfully, the higher high quality of life than lots of prescribed drugs. There may be little or no uncomfortable side effects for me, personally. I even have extra power with it,” she stated.

Andere has filed for incapacity discrimination with the Illinois Division of Human Rights. The Individuals with Disabilities Act offers no safety in Illinois as a result of marijuana stays unlawful on the federal stage.

“I informed them on my software I used to be disabled, and so for them to not give me some other choices, I felt that was one thing I actually wanted to carry to mild,” Andere stated.

In an e mail, a spokesperson for Silver Cross Surgical procedure heart stated they “decline to touch upon pending authorized issues.”

Andere’s lawyer stated circumstances like hers are rising because the patchwork of marijuana legal guidelines and insurance policies haven’t but been challenged in state courts.

“Individuals are past confused,” stated employment lawyer David Fish. “Individuals name us up and normally their first response is, I appeared on the web and marijuana is authorized and it says in there I am unable to be fired for utilizing it at work, after which we’ve got to elucidate that there is this legislation that claims one thing somewhat bit totally different.”

“I believe we have to clear it up, it is lengthy overdue. It is impacting lots of people,” stated State Rep. Bob Morgan.

Morgan has launched laws to problem Illinois legislation so most employees or job seekers wouldn’t be punished after testing constructive for low ranges of marijuana, whether or not leisure or medical.

“This legislation would change the burden within the sense that the person who fails a drug take a look at alone shouldn’t lose their job, and shouldn’t be refused a chance to work someplace” he defined. “Except you present impairment, you possibly can’t be discriminated in opposition to within the office.”

The attain of state legislation might be limiting, and including to the confusion is that employment safety for hashish customers could not apply to federal positions and safety-sensitive jobs, similar to these in transportation, manufacturing and well being care.

Employment consultants say many firms are sticking with conventional drug screens for legal responsibility and security causes as properly.

“We have now at all times been a drug free, work protected setting,” stated Joyce Johnson, president and CEO of Anchor staffing in Chicago.
Johnson’s firm offers contigent employess for a wide range of firms. “A variety of firms will simply say ‘We do not care if it is federally authorized or state authorized, it is not our firm coverage, they must cross a drug display and so they can not come again constructive with hashish.’ And I believe that is what lots of firms are going beneath, simply to verify it is truthful.”

Andere stated her use of medical marijuana at residence doesn’t intervene together with her skill to be an excellent nurse at work.

“If it takes me being the instance to alter insurance policies or change a legislation, then I am all for it as a result of I am keen to face up for what is correct,” she stated.

With the steadily rising numbers of licensed medical marijuana cardholders in Illinois and the legalization of leisure marijuana, nonetheless, docs and lawmakers are stressing the crucial want for firms to rethink drug testing insurance policies.

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