A Louisiana bill offering employment protections for medical marijuana patients was barely approved May 22, but a compromise cost those patients the ability to make workers’ compensation claims.
House Bill 351 will protect medical marijuana users from losing unemployment benefits due to marijuana use, but the bill’s supporters had to sacrifice their attempt to allow users to make workers’ compensation claims to get the bill passed.
There are currently only six states that have legalized medical marijuana to explicitly allow patients to make workers’ compensation claims: Connecticut, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York.
Compromise with state business association moved bill forward
Rep. Mandie Landry, of New Orleans, sponsored the bill. She relied on a compromise with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) that sacrificed the bill’s right to allow medical marijuana patients to file workers’ compensation claims to get HB 351 to move forward, according to GreenState.com.
LABI member Wayne Fontana expressed concerns that workers’ compensation protections would encourage marijuana use at work, leading to more employee accidents. Landry clarified that the bill was not intended to encourage people to be “stoned at work.”
Approval of the bill came with a vote of 6-5 once the workers’ compensation protections were removed.
Landry has sponsored other bills to protect medical marijuana patients, including HB 988, which protects state workers from discrimination due to medical marijuana patient status. She also created the Employment and Medical Marijuana Task Force.