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Employers risk breaching Equality Act over cannabis patients

Employers risk breaching Equality Act over cannabis patients

Employers are currently at risk of breaching the Equality Act over their approach to prescription cannabis patients, according to a new report from the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC).

Entitled ‘The Use of Prescription Cannabis at Work’, the report notes that employers must provide reasonable adjustments to accommodate those with disabilities. Yet this is not typical employer practice towards prescription cannabis patients, who often have chronic pain and disabilities.

The CIC report calls on employers to treat prescription cannabis patients like any other medical patients, and to have regard to their legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Report authors Mohammad Wasway of The Sanskara Platform and Guy Coxall of Seed our Future commented:

“We have heard from many concerned and vulnerable patients who have been harassed and mistreated by their employers simply for taking their prescription medication.

“We urge businesses to support their employees, and implement sensible and proportionate solutions that will improve employee wellbeing and productivity.”

CIC Standards Working Group Chair Elisabetta Faenza said:

“The Cannabis Industry Council will be working with employers and unions to uphold workplace rights for prescription cannabis patients, based on law, medicine, and basic compassion.

“Many businesses say they are committed to equality, diversity and inclusivity, yet often underdeliver. Now is the time for employers to step-up and support ill and disabled employees.”

The report also explains and clarifies the medical context surrounding prescription cannabis, and proposes ways forward to manage usage by employees. User-friendly flowcharts and illustrative case studies have been included to help support employers.

Since 2018, specialist doctors have been allowed to prescribe cannabis medicines to their patients, who are then legally allowed to possess and consume this medication.

Employers who fail to uphold the workplace rights of patients, including both employees and interview candidates, are at risk of being taken to an employment tribunal.

The report can be viewed here as a download and as website content here.

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