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Small business owners in Alabama continuously work to maintain a delicate balance between federal and state employment laws and their own workplace policies. As legislators seek to ensure that all Americans have equal opportunities to work, regulations sometimes conflict with best practices that protect small companies as a whole. Human resource departments could now face new conflicts as states continue to legalize medical cannabis and its use becomes more socially acceptable. While all marijuana use is still illegal in Alabama, this might change soon. 

WHNT.com reports that the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee will review SB165, or “The Compassion Act,” to legalize marijuana for medical use. Republican Sen. Tim Melson of Florence is sponsoring this bill in the shadow of a previous attempt to pass a medical marijuana bill failed during the last congressional session. 

While drafting the legislation, the Alabama medical cannabis group took into consideration a number of issues that could stem from allowing medical cannabis in the workplace. The bill states that employees under the influence would not be eligible to collect workers’ compensation in the event of an injury. The group also specifically wrote in additional provisions to protect business owners’ rights. 

Employers should wish their employees to do what is necessary to treat chronic medical issues; however, marijuana is a mind-altering substance and could pose a potential danger in the workplace. If The Compassion Act eventually comes to a vote and passes, small business owners in Alabama will likely have to adapt in consideration of the new regulations. Experienced business attorneys might be able to help employers rework existing policies to stay compliant with the law while accommodating their employees and protecting their businesses.