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Home » Bills advance to protect Virginia employees who access medical cannabis

Bills advance to protect Virginia employees who access medical cannabis

State lawmakers in Virginia have made significant strides in safeguarding public sector employees who use medical cannabis. Here are the key details:

  1. House Bill 149:
    • Introduced by Del. Dan Helmer, a Democrat from Fairfax.
    • The bill extends to state public employees the rights that already exist in the private sector.
    • It allows public sector employees, including firefighters, police officers, and teachers, to use medical cannabis without risking their jobs.
    • The bill passed with bipartisan support in a 78-20 vote.
  2. Senate Bill 391:
    • Introduced by Sen. Stella Pekarsky, a Democrat from Fairfax.
    • Offers similar protection to public sector employees, except for law enforcement officers.
    • The bill specifically extends protection for the use of cannabis oil.


  • The medical cannabis program is currently the only legal way to purchase cannabis in Virginia.
  • However, patients and cannabis advocates have pointed out several issues with the program, including registration feesinconsistent supplyhigh priceslow potency, and overall access.
  • Del. Helmer’s previous bill, HB 1862, unintentionally left out public sector employees. This new bill aims to rectify that oversight and protect our brave first responders.


  • Public sector employees who are approved to use cannabis products for treating conditions or diseases will now have job protection.
  • The bills emphasize the use of medically recommended products within the existing state cap of 10 milligrams of THC per dose.
  • Any necessary policy adjustments will be managed within existing resources by the Department of Labor and Industry or the Department of Human Resource Management.


  • Joe Mirabile, a representative of Virginia’s Professional Firefighters, testified in support of Del. Helmer’s bill.
  • He highlighted positive effects such as reduced reliance on alcohol, better sleep, and relief from joint and muscle pain without opioids.

Remember, the only legal way to purchase cannabis in Virginia remains through the medical cannabis program, where approved state practitioners can issue certifications after initial consultations

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