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Mercy updates policy on medical marijuana use

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As the date for purchasing legalized medical marijuana approaches, hospital systems in southwest Missouri are preparing policies to address employees’ use of marijuana for medical conditions.

Mercy Springfield Communities sent an updated policy on medical marijuana use to employees March 20. The policy, obtained by Springfield Business Journal on the condition of anonymity, strictly prohibits the use or possession of marijuana, or being under the influence of marijuana, while at work.

Recreational and medicinal marijuana are both identified as illegal drugs in the policy, as Mercy states it’s following the federal law’s guidance on medical marijuana.

“Mercy considers marijuana to be an illegal drug for purposes of this policy in all states – even those states that allow for medical and/or nonmedical use,” an explanation of the policy reads in an email to staff.

The email identifies March 15 as the effective date for the policy updates.

“Because our top priority is the safety of our co-workers and patients, our co-workers are prohibited from being under the influence of any substance at work that could cause impairment,” said Sonya Kullmann, Mercy media relations and communications manager, via email. “Mercy human resources regularly reviews its policies to ensure they remain current and relevant, provide for the safety and well-being of our patients and co-workers and are in accordance with appropriate local, state and federal laws and regulations.”

Missouri voters in November 2018 approved Amendment 2, legalizing medical marijuana use for individuals who have a qualifying medical condition.

At Citizens Memorial Hospital in Bolivar, any employee policy change is still under review.

“We’ve not made any modifications to our drug-free workplace policy,” said Tamera Heitz-Peek, marketing director for CMH.

The current policy does not specifically address medical marijuana, Heitz-Peek said.

CoxHealth is in the process of updating its policy, said Media Relations Manager Kaitlyn McConnell.

“It is still too early to know all of the changes that may be required by the passage of Amendment 2,” she said via email. “CoxHealth is examining best practices across the country to determine its plan regarding various aspects and implications of this legislation.”

According to the new state law, a Missouri resident obtaining medical marijuana must visit a state-licensed physician to receive certification, followed by an application to the Department of Health and Senior Services for the identification card. The state health department, which oversees the licensing and regulation of medical marijuana, will begin to accept applications for identification cards on July 4.

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