Governor Pritzker Signs into Law Significant Amendments to the Cannabis Act

Published December 5, 2019

On December 4, 2019 Governor Pritzker signed into law SB 1557 amending the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (the “Act”). SB 1557, among other things, clarifies an employer’s right to take adverse action against an employee or prospective employee who tests positive for marijuana. Prior to SB 1557, the Act strongly suggested that employers would be prohibited from taking action against an employee based solely on a positive marijuana test without evidence of impairment.

SB 1557, in relevant part, states that employers cannot be sued for:

(1)          actions taken pursuant to an employer’s reasonable workplace drug policy, including but not limited to subjecting an employee or applicant to reasonable drug and alcohol testing, reasonable and nondiscriminatory random drug testing, and discipline, termination of employment, or withdrawal of a job offer due to a failure of a drug test.

As such, it appears that employers can refuse to hire and take disciplinary action based on a failed marijuana drug test without fear of being sued under the Act. Note, this does not preclude a job applicant or employee from pursing a cause of action pursuant to other state or federal laws including the U.S. Constitution.

Additionally, SB 1557 clarifies any confusion that existed over marijuana drug testing of various public safety positions for cannabis by providing:

Nothing in this Act prevents a public employer of law enforcement officers, corrections officers, probation officers, paramedics, or firefighters from prohibiting or taking disciplinary action for the consumption, possession, sales, purchase, or delivery of cannabis or cannabis-infused substances while on or off duty, unless provided for in the employer’s policies.

Please address questions regarding this Law Alert to any Robbins Schwartz attorney.