Special Session Pending for Marijuana Legalization Bill
The Connecticut General Assembly will act on the legalization of recreational marijuana in a special legislative session later this month.
SB 1118 passed the state Senate on a narrow 19-17 vote late in the closing days of the 2021 session, but the House failed to act on the bill prior to the June 9 adjournment.
House Speaker Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) said the bill will be addressed in a special session, which will also take up the state budget implementer legislation.
CBIA and representatives of member companies worked to ensure the legislation includes employer protections for maintaining safe workplaces.
SB 1118 includes the following language addressing those employer protections:
- Nothing in the bill’s employment-related provisions limits or prevents an employer from: (1) subjecting an employee or applicant to drug testing or a fitness for duty evaluation; or (2) taking adverse action under an employer policy established under the bill’s criteria, including disciplining an employee, terminating employment, or rescinding a conditional job offer to a prospective employee.
- Employers are able to adopt policies prohibiting the possession and use of cannabis in the workplace.
- No employer will be required to make accommodations for an employee to: (1) perform their duties while under the influence of cannabis; or (2) possess, use, or otherwise consume cannabis while performing work duties or on the employer’s premises.
- Permits an employer to prohibit cannabis use outside the workplace if the employer has adopted a policy under the bill’s conditions that includes the prohibition.
- The bill does not limit an employer from taking appropriate adverse or other employment action upon (1) reasonable suspicion of an employee’s use of cannabis while engaged in the employee’s work responsibilities at the workplace or on call; or (2) determining that an employee shows specific, articulable symptoms of drug impairment while working at the workplace or on call. These signs of impairment must decrease or lessen the employee’s performance of the duties or tasks of the employee’s job position.
- Employee Recourse: With certain exceptions, an employee or prospective employee aggrieved by a violation of the bill’s employer limitations may, within 90 days after the alleged violation, bring a civil action in the Superior Court for the district where the violation is alleged to have occurred or where the employer has its principal office.
Exempted Employment Situations
The bill explicitly does not apply to drug testing, conditions of continued employment, or conditions for hiring employees required under:
- Federal Department of Transportation regulations that require testing a prospective employee under the department’s administrative procedures (49 C.F.R. 40)
- Any state agency regulations that adopt a federal regulation for enforcement purposes regarding intrastate commerce
- Any contract entered into between the federal government and an employer or any federal financial assistance grant to an employer that requires drug testing prospective employees as a condition of the contract or grant
- Any federal law or state statute, regulation, or order that requires drug testing prospective employees for safety or security purposes
- Any applicant whose prospective employer is a party to a collective bargaining agreement that specifically addresses drug testing, conditions of hiring, or conditions of continued employment of the applicant
The sections included above are consistent with employer protection legislation other states have adopted when favorably approving the recreational use of cannabis.
The legislature’s Judiciary Committee also acted on consumer privacy legislation was heavily debated throughout this legislative session, but failed under great opposition in the waning days.
While lawmakers and the business community found common ground with SB 893, later attempts to amend the bill would have stripped the agreed upon language and require businesses to disclose the proposed use of any personal information, give consumers the right to discover what personal information a business possess, and the ability to opt-out of the sale of personal information.
As amended, this legislation would be on par with California’s comprehensive privacy law that is estimated to cost businesses $55 billion for initial compliance.
The Senate did not act on the bill prior to the June 9 adjournment.
SB 1019, also known as the clean slate bill, allows for a criminal record to be erased in the case of most misdemeanors and a very limited number of lower level felonies.
Misdemeanor criminal records would be eligible for erasure after seven years, and for certain class D felonies, 10 years.
Up to 300,000 individuals in Connecticut will be eligible to have their records erased upon the Jan. 1, 2023 effective date of this legislation.
Additionally, the bill prohibits various forms of discrimination based on someone’s erased criminal history record information, such as in employment, public accommodations, the sale or rental of housing, the granting of credit, and several other areas.
Gov. Ned Lamont signed the bill June 10.
For more information, contact CBIA’s John Blair (860.244.1921).
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