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Bill To Limit Med Marijuana in Workplaces Fails


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The bill would have expanded an employer's ability to prohibit the use of medical marijuana by workers in jobs deemed hazardous by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration, including construction, law enforcement, forest services and some manufacturing.

Associated General Contractors, representing commercial construction companies, said the bill was needed not only to prevent accidents but to keep construction companies from losing federal contracts for failing to abide by federal workplace drug laws.

The proposal, however, faced quick opposition from civil liberties organizations. It also failed to win backing from Associated Oregon Industries, an advocate for Oregon businesses that supported attempts to pass similar legislation in 2005 and 2007.

J.L Wilson, an AOI lobbyist, said this year's bill was too narrow in focus.

"We feel this is a workplace issue that spans all sectors of employers, not just those in dangerous occupations," Wilson told the (Portland) Daily Journal of Commerce.

Under Oregon's 1998 medical marijuana law, employers don't have to let patients with medical marijuana cards smoke it in the workplace. But the law left it unclear whether employers must accommodate workers who smoke medical marijuana off the job.

In 2006, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled against a registered medical marijuana user who was fired from his job at a Columbia Forest Products plant after urine tests detected traces of the drug. But the court's decision avoided the central issue of marijuana use outside of the workplace.

The two industry groups said they intend to work together next year for a more comprehensive medical marijuana bill.

Drew Hagedorn, a lobbyist for the Oregon-Columbia chapter of the Associated General Contractors, said the group's lobbying efforts for 2009 will also include pushes for more transportation funding and a shorter statute of repose on construction defect lawsuits.

The group is also working with legislators to fix a typo in House Bill 3242, which set new experience requirements for commercial construction licenses.

As written, the bill requires Level 2 contractors to have at least eight years of experience and Level 1 contractors to have at least four years. Those requirements will be flip-flopped.

Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2008 Associated Press
Contact: cannabisnews.com: medical related topics
Website: cannabisnews.com: medical related topics
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