Pottawatomie County Commissioners on Monday discussed the new Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act and how to apply it to Pottawatomie County jobs.

According to Floodplain Manager Tommy Arnold, the bill, also known as the “Unity Bill” was signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt March 14, 2019 and allows employers to designate certain positions as "safety sensitive."

With the legalization of medical marijuana, employers are attempting to regulate how those with medical marijuana licenses are hired and disciplined at work.

In the meeting, Arnold explained employers can't discriminate against or penalize an employee or applicant based on the status of their medical marijuana license.

"Employers may not take any action against a valid, Oklahoma issued, medical marijuana license holder based solely on a positive drug test for marijuana," Arnold said.

Arnold explained in his presentation, the Unity Bill enables employers to create safety sensitive jobs which allow them to discipline an employee if they test positive for marijuana even if they have a valid license.

"Employers may also refuse to hire applicants for safety sensitive jobs who test positive for marijuana as part of a preemployment drug test even if those applicants can produce a valid medical marijuana patient license," Arnold said.

However, the Unity Bill specifically states employees may only be exempt if the position involves safety sensitive job duties and applicants and employees must have advance notice.

Arnold defined safety sensitive jobs as positions with specific duties such as operating machinery, motor vehicles, repairing and other such actions.

Arnold explained there are various sensitive job duties but only one is required to be in a job description to make it a safety sensitive job.

At the meeting, Arnold continued his presentation and discussed the job descriptions of Road Maintenance Crew Foreman and Road Maintenance Crew Worker I, which commissioners would like to make safety sensitive jobs.

In the meeting, Arnold also explained Work Zone Safety and how safety sensitive jobs relate to countywide road maintenance.

"Pottawatomie County will begin hosting two safety zone training sessions a year," Arnold said. "The Road Maintenance Crew Foreman and the Safety Director will work together to provide this training."

Arnold also recommended compliance and ways to hold those in safety sensitive jobs accountable.

"If a minor violation is found the Safety Director will immediately notify the Road Maintenance Crew Foreman, the issue will be resolved within an hour and if the issue is not resolved within an hour the County Commissioner will be notified," Arnold said.

He explained if a major violation is found the Safety Director will tell the workers to shut the job down until the issue is resolved and the Road Maintenance Crew Foreman and the Commissioners will be notified.

Going forward, commissioners will continue applying the standards of the Unity Bill and learning about the aspects of regulating medical marijuana license holders as it pertains to work.