Can an Employee for the Cannabis Industry File for Unemployment Insurance or State Disability Insurance?

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November 11, 2020

The California cannabis industry is booming, especially ever since the industry was found to be essential. For more information regarding cannabis as an essential business, please read our article,  Is the Cannabis Industry an Essential Business in California? With an increase in demand, and an order allowing the businesses to remain open, the industry is in need of several employees, from budtending, to distribution, to delivery. Do these employees have the right to file for unemployment insurance or state disability insurance, since cannabis distribution is still illegal under federal law?

Since cannabis is considered a Schedule I unlawful substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act, the cannabis industry is not entitled to relief under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The FFCRA provides $1 billion in additional funds to help states with unemployment, due to the coronvirus shutdown.

However, a cannabis worker can still qualify for state unemployment. So long as a cannabis worker meeting all eligibility requirements, the worker may apply for unemployment insurance or state disability insurance. Unemployment insurance kicks into play when a worker loses their job, while state disability insurance helps workers recover full or partial lost wages due to illness, injury, or pregnancy leave.

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This article is based on the law as of the date posted at the top of the article. This article does not constitute the provision of legal advice, and does not by itself create an attorney-client relationship with Eskridge Law.