On July 2, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a much-anticipated bill into effect that expands and revises the state’s existing medical cannabis program, the Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA). For employers faced with employees and job applicants who use cannabis, New Jersey Assembly Bill A20 provides certain job protections for medical cannabis users. This is a significant change for employees and employers, since CUMMA previously did not explicitly contain such protections, and guidance from courts was inconclusive and slow-developing. These changes are summarized below.
The CUMMA Amendment
Breaking with the previous version of CUMMA, Assembly Bill A20 now contains a non-discrimination provision which provides that an employer cannot take an adverse employment action against an employee “based solely on the employee’s status as a registrant” for medical cannabis. Unlike the previous draft of the now aborted adult-use cannabis bill, there is no carve-out in Assembly Bill A20 allowing an employer to discriminate against a medical cannabis user if there is a “rational basis” for doing so.