Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On June 26, 2018, voters in Oklahoma approved an initiative – State Question 788 (SQ 788) – that will legalize the use of medical marijuana. Oklahoma is now one of 30 states that permit medical marijuana usage in America. However, the use of marijuana for any purpose is still illegal under U.S. federal law.

SQ 788 will allow Oklahoma residents to obtain a medical marijuana license with the signature of a board-certified physician and possess up to eight ounces of marijuana in their residence. The law forbids employers from penalizing qualified medical marijuana license holders unless there is usage or possession in the workplace.

According to unofficial results from the Oklahoma State Election Board for the Statewide Primary Election, voters approved SQ 788 to legalize medical marijuana use by a margin of 56 percent to 43 percent. A summary of the initiative – which was written by Oklahomans for Health – reads as follows:

This measure amends the Oklahoma State Statutes. A yes vote legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma for medicinal purposes. A license is required for use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes and must be approved by an Oklahoma Board Certified Physician. The State Department of Health will issue medical marijuana licenses if the applicant is eighteen years or older and an Oklahoma resident. A special exception will be granted to an applicant under the age of eighteen, however these applications must be signed by two physicians and a parent or legal guardian. The Department will also issue seller, grower, packaging, transportation, research and caregiver licenses. Individual and retail businesses must meet minimal requirements to be licensed to sell marijuana to licensees. The punishment for unlicensed possession of permitted amounts of marijuana for individuals who can state a medical condition is a fine not exceeding four hundred dollars. Fees and zoning restrictions are established. A seven percent state tax is imposed on medical marijuana sales.

In April 2017, ESR News reported that employers were questioning if they should stop drug testing for marijuana now that many states have legalized it for medicinal or recreational purposes and acceptance has spread, according to an article from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

The SHRM article explained that marijuana “remains illegal under federal law, and employers have the right to test for it, even in states where the substance is legal. Not only does federal law conflict with some states’ laws, but state laws also vary, sometimes significantly, challenging multistate employers.”

In December 2016, ESR News also reported that employers performing drug tests having to deal with the growth of state laws allowing the medical and/or recreational use of marijuana was one of the ‘ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends’ for 2017 selected by Employment Screening Resources (ESR).

“The national trend towards legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes will be a critical workplace issue, especially given state conflicts with federal law and the uncertainties as to how the new Justice Department will approach the issue,” said ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen.

Drug use by the American workforce has reached its highest level in more than a decade with a positivity rate at 4.2 percent in 2017, according to the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index Report. Marijuana positivity increased in the general U.S. workforce from 2.5 percent in 2016 to 2.6 percent in 2017.

ESR Understands How Marijuana Laws Affect Drug Testing

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a global background check firm – understands that employers performing drug testing must deal with complex laws regarding the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. To learn more, visit www.esrcheck.com/Background-Checks/Drug-Testing/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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