A bill that would legalize recreational cannabis in New Mexico includes workplace protections for employees that use pot while off the job. The bill by Albuquerque Democrats Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Rep. Javier Martinez is expected to be introduced in the legislature later this month, according to media reports.
The bill that legalized medical marijuana in New Mexico in 2007 did not address the issue of employees using cannabis while not working. Consequently, some patients have been fired after testing positive for cannabis use in workplace drug tests. Those that have challenged their termination in court have not been successful. Many states with legal medical marijuana, including Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, and Rhode Island have workplace protections for patients. Albuquerque attorney Jason Bowles believes that his state should follow suit.
“There are no protections right now in New Mexico for workers who use medical marijuana legally,” Bowles said.
Provisions in a draft of the legalization bill make it illegal to take adverse action against employees for a positive drug test for cannabis or for legal conduct outside of the workplace. Workers would not be protected if employers could show “by a preponderance of evidence that an employee’s lawful