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Kentucky Legalizes Medical Marijuana

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On March 31, 2023, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 47 into law, legalizing medical marijuana. This bill signing came on the heels of Governor Beshear’s executive order last November providing access to medical marijuana in certain circumstances. SB 47 goes into effect January 1, 2025.  

What Do Employers Need to Know? 

SB 47 contains extensive protections for employers. Specifically, employers are not required to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, distribution, sale, or growing of medical cannabis in the workplace. 

Further, employers are allowed to:

  • Implement policies promoting workplace health and safety by:
    • Restricting use of medical cannabis by employees; or
    • Restricting or prohibiting the use of equipment, machinery, or power tools by an employee who is a registered, qualifying patient if the employer believes such use poses an unreasonable safety risk.
  • Include in any contract provisions that prohibit medical cannabis use.
  • Establish and enforce a drug testing policy, drug-free workplace, or zero tolerance drug policy.
  • Exercise the ability to determine impairment of an employee who is a cardholder. This includes behavioral assessments of impairment and a secondary step of testing an employee by an established method. If an employer determines the employee is impaired, the burden of proof shifts to the employee to refute the findings.

Employers are also protected from a cause of action related to wrongful discharge or discrimination, and will not be penalized or denied any benefit under state law for employing a cardholder. 

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