Medical Cannabis Patients in Puerto Rico Gain Employment Protections

By Juan Felipe Santos, Sara E. Colón-Acevedo and Karla Carrillo-Russe © Jackson Lewis August 19, 2021
LIKE SAVE
cannabis in a prescription bottle

Registered and authorized patients of medical cannabis in Puerto Rico are considered a protected category for purposes of all employment laws under an amendment to the "Act to Manage the Study, Development and Investigation of Cannabis for Innovation, Applicable Norms and Limitations" signed by Gov. Pedro R. Pierluisi on July 29.

Under the amendment, Puerto Rico Law 15-2021, employers may not discriminate against registered and authorized patients of medical cannabis in the recruitment, hiring, designation, or termination process or when imposing disciplinary actions.

Law 15-2021 goes into effect immediately.

Exceptions

The provisions of Law 15-2021 will not protect registered and authorized patients of medical cannabis if the employer can establish, by a preponderance of evidence, that:

  • The use of medical cannabis represents a real threat of harm or danger to others or property.
  • The use of medical cannabis interferes with the employee's performance and functions.
  • Permitting the use of medical cannabis would expose the employer to the risk of losing any license, permit, or certification related to any federal law, regulation, program, or fund.
  • The registered and authorized patient made use of or possess medical cannabis during working time or in the workplace without the employer's written authorization.

Employer Protections

Law 15-2021 protects employers that hire registered and authorized medical cannabis patients from being penalized or denied a contract, license, permit, certification, benefits or funds under the laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Implications

The provisions of Law 15-2021 are to be interpreted liberally in favor of the registered and authorized patients of medical cannabis.

Further, the Medical Cannabis Regulatory Board and the Department of Labor and Human Resources must adopt any regulations or administrative measures to ensure the effective implementation of Law 15-2021 by Oct. 27.

Employers should revise their drug testing and discrimination policies to comply with Law 15-2021.

Juan Felipe Santos, Sara E. Colón-Acevedo and Karla Carrillo-Russe are attorneys with Jackson Lewis in San Juan, Puerto Rico. © 2021 Jackson Lewis. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission.

LIKE SAVE

SHRM HR JOBS

Hire the best HR talent or advance your own career.

Member Benefit: Ask-An-Advisor Service

SHRM's HR Knowledge Advisors offer guidance and resources to assist members with their HR inquiries.

SHRM's HR Knowledge Advisors offer guidance and resources to assist members with their HR inquiries.

REACH OUT NOW

SPONSOR OFFERS

HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.