Puerto Rico’s Governor Pedro Pierluisi has signed legislation to protect medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.

The governor signed into law Act No. 15-2021 (Act 15). Act 15 amends Act No. 42 of July 9, 2017, also known as the Act to Manage the Study, Development and Research of Cannabis for Innovation, Applicable Standards and Limits (Medicinal Cannabis Act). This amendment expands employment protections to employees who are registered and licensed medical cannabis patients.

Per the press release, “the Medicinal Cannabis Act, among other things, allows the use of medical cannabis per a doctor’s recommendation for duly authorized individuals suffering from a serious health condition. There must be a bona fide doctor-patient relationship between the doctor who issues the recommendation and the individual. The Medicinal Cannabis Act and its applicable regulation specifically provide a list of covered health conditions for which medical cannabis treatment could be accepted.”

The legislation amends Puerto Rico’s medical marijuana access law and adds that registered patients are now classified as members of a protected class under the US territory’s employment protection laws.

Under the expanded law, employers are not allowed to discriminate against authorized patients of medical cannabis in the recruitment, hiring, designation, or termination process or when imposing disciplinary actions.

Exceptions to employees’ protection include situations where “the use of medical cannabis represents a real threat of harm or danger to others or property” and/or when “the use of medical cannabis interferes with the employee’s performance and functions,” among other situations.

Many U.S. states have imposed similar protection from workplace discrimination for medical marijuana patients, including Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

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