Medical marijuana legalities behind the wheel and in the workplace

KPLC 7News at Six- Oct. 1, 2018 - medical marijuana legalities

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Medical marijuana is now legal in Louisiana with a prescription.

However, many people now have questions about it’s legality in regards to things like driving or working.

When it comes to driving with a medical marijuana prescription, Louisiana State Trooper Derek Senegal said you cannot drive impaired, no matter what the substance you’re taking.

“You’re going to just have to see how it effects you," Senegal said. "And those current laws that we have, driving impaired, those do apply to medical marijuana.”

Senegal suggested if you’re new to taking medical marijuana, talking with your doctor and taking extra precaution to make sure you’re not impaired before getting behind the wheel.

He said while you can legally carry the medication on your person or in your car, you have to have the prescription with you at all times.

“You have to make sure that it is in the actual bottle or container that it comes in, with your name on it, everything, the dosage levels are going to be on there, so it all has to be in that actual container that it comes in," Senegal said.

As for medical marijuana in the workplace, Mark Judson with the Southwest Louisiana Law Center said prescription medication is something that’s always had to be addressed by employers.

Now, medical marijuana has just been added to that list.

“We now are going to have to examine medical marijuana just like we would with any painkiller or Oxycodone or a psychological or mental health drug like Xanax.”

Judson said much like driving, it really comes down to impairment.

“It’s not just driving and heavy equipment, I probably would not want an attorney drafting my will or representing me in court, who could possibly be impaired," Judson said.

He said unlike substances such as alcohol, where there is a set number that determines impairment, it’s going to be up to individual workplaces to clearly present their employees with what their standard of impairment is.

He said for businesses that don’t currently have a written employee handbook, or need to update their policies on drugs in the workplace, this is a good time to do so.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission also issued a statement to KPLC about their policies in regards to medical marijuana:

"LWC does not condone the use of any drug or substance that impairs an employee from doing his or her job, or affects the safety of the employee, other employees, the public, or anyone else in the workplace. LWC upholds a drug-free and alcohol-free workplace. Given the recent changes in Louisiana law, LWC will continue to follow all state laws and federal laws regarding drug use.

Additionally, all employers have the legal right to maintain a drug-free and alcohol-free work environment, and are allowed to test job applicants and employees as long as the employer clearly informs those applicants and employees of the company’s drug testing policies, including pre-employment screening and random drug testing."

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