Screening News Update: Federal Marijuana Bills, Drug Testing Jockeys, and Paying for Return-to-Work COVID Tests

Screening News Update: Federal Marijuana Bills, Drug Testing Jockeys, and Paying for Return-to-Work COVID Tests

By Jennifer Gladstone

Legalizing marijuana on the federal level could be closer than ever before, a drug testing pilot program aimed at jockeys, and deciding who should pay for employer mandated COVID-19 tests. It’s all in today’s EBI Screening News Update.

Federal Legalization Could be on the Horizon

Is the federal government ready to really step into the recreational marijuana fray? Several bills have been proposed in Congress over the last several years, but none have ever gained traction. Now, with 16 states having already legalized adult use of the drug, and possibly three more on the way, some big names are stepping up with new legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he is poised to introduce a marijuana bill in the “very near future.” He says the bill, which is co-sponsored by Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden, would not only nationally legalize recreational use of the drug, but would also expunge past marijuana convictions and implement taxes and regulations.

Democrats are not the only ones working towards a change on the federal level. Two Republican lawmakers have already introduced a bill to legalize marijuana. The Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses, and Medical Professionals Act is sponsored by Representatives David Joyce and Don Young. In addition to removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, it would also protect banks that service the industry and allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe medical marijuana. It would also mandate medical studies but does not include any provisions for expungements.

It’s Not Just the Horses

If you spent your Saturday evening cheering on the horses in the Preakness, you know all eyes were on Medina Spirit after the Kentucky Derby doping controversy. The issue seems to be fading into the background since an 11-1 longshot crossed the finish line first.

Now, the drug testing focus shifts from horse to rider.

A pilot program has been launched in Britain to help weed out jockeys who are using cocaine after a string of positive tests over the last 18 months. The British Horseracing Authority has decided to try using saliva tests that return results in as little as 15 minutes.

The cheek swabs are fast and easy to use, and the head of the Professional Jockeys Association says they are a great deterrent and an “essential piece of the jigsaw puzzle” when it comes to prevention.

In addition to better testing, harsher penalties will soon be in place for those who test positive.

No word on if their American counterparts are going to follow suit.

New Hampshire COVID-19 Testing Bill

Employers in New Hampshire may have to foot the bill if they want to require new hires or returning staff to take a COVID-19 test before getting to work.

At this point, the majority of health insurance plans pay for testing without requiring a co-pay or deductible, but sponsors of the proposed legislation say there are still several concerns.

First, sponsors say they have been hearing from constituents without insurance who have found themselves with no way to pay for the testing. There are also issues with insurance companies refusing to pay for tests deemed “non-medically necessary.” Finally, once the emergency order has passed, companies might want to continue the testing, but insurance companies will no longer be compelled to pay for them.

The bill is currently working its way through the state Senate.

About the Author

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.

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