Bill would protect veterans, federal workers who use medical cannabis

A new push has been announced to protect veterans and federal workers who use medical marijuana.

Wednesday, Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL) announced a bipartisan bill that would make it illegal to fire or deny employment to federal workers who are prescribed cannabis, while allowing military veterans more treatment options.

Medical cannabis treatment is legal in Florida, however, even with a prescription, someone can be fired or denied employment if cannabis comes up on a drug screen. The issue is a constant concern for Largo resident Jimmy Johnston, who has a prescription.

"I can be fired from my employer for choosing to use cannabis legally," Johnston said.

Congressman Crist has joined a Republican representative from Georgia to co-sponsor the bill that would protect federal workers, who are prescribed marijuana, from losing their job. 

The bill also expands treatment options for military veterans.

"This would make it a nationwide opportunity for veterans and other federal workers," Crist told FOX 13 Wednesday.

Michael Minardi is an attorney who represents someone who has a valid prescription but was still denied a job in the private sector.

“The guy was promised a job was told '[It’s] OK. You can use medical marijuana,'” Minardi said. “Then when he quit his old job, moved down [to Florida], they told him they couldn't accept him because of his medical marijuana use."

Crist says he hopes his bill will open the door for future legislation that protects private sector workers as well.

"It definitely could do that because this is a good first step,” Crist said.

The bill would not apply to federal workers with top-secret clearance or who appear to be impaired on the job.