Testing positive for cannabis in a workplace drug screening would result in termination across the United States in recent years. But, the evolving state-level legislation has complicated the legal connection between cannabis use and employment laws. There is a complex interplay of local, state, and federal regulations that govern cannabis use in varying ways. So, employees are now uncertain about whether holding a medical marijuana card would impact their employment.
These contradictory laws can be particularly perplexing for individuals who use medical marijuana. Even though they own a medical marijuana card, and consume cannabis products for treating an approved health condition. But it does not guarantee that employers will perceive cannabis consumption as acceptable. Thus, the question remains: does holding a medical marijuana card influence one’s employment status?
Federal Laws and Medical Marijuana
Cannabis is categorized as a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level. This means that it is not recognized as having any medical or therapeutic benefits. So, despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) stipulating that employers must make reasonable adjustments for qualified employees with disabilities like those who rely on medical marijuana for medical purposes, it is unlawful according to federal regulations. As a result, employers are not obligated by law to accommodate the usage of cannabis by employees holding a valid medical marijuana card.
State Laws and Medical Marijuana
While employers are not required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees possessing medical marijuana cards. But, the situation appears to be changing on a state level. Currently, 36 states, including the District of Columbia, have legalized medical marijuana. This conflicting legal landscape makes it challenging for both employees and employers to comprehend the precise impact of possessing a medical marijuana card on drug testing procedures and employment.
So can medical marijuana lead to termination or being overlooked for job opportunities? It depends on the laws of your state of residence and the policies of individual employers.
State Medical Marijuana Protections
Legislation has been introduced in 14 states where medical marijuana is legal. These states include:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
Maine and Nevada have implemented stricter measures to safeguard individuals. Employers are not allowed to make employment choices based on an individual’s use of cannabis outside of work, regardless of whether it is for medical purposes or not.
In other states where medical marijuana has been legalized, there is no guarantee of accommodations for individuals with medical marijuana cards.
Approximately 20 states have no explicit obligation for employers to permit its usage. Because they are only bound by federal laws that do not provide any allowances for medical marijuana users. Certain employers in these states without current protections have updated their company policies about cannabis usage in recent times. Many companies have discontinued zero-tolerance drug testing and revised their regulations on off-duty cannabis use. This is done to align with state laws about medical or recreational cannabis. Moreover, they will make efforts to accommodate medical marijuana patients on an individual basis.
To understand the potential influence of your medical marijuana card on your job, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with your state’s current position on protecting medical marijuana users. Additionally, it’s essential to keep in mind that regardless of the state, employers always keep the right to disallow cannabis usage or impairment at work, even if it is for medical reasons.
The impact of a medical marijuana card on employment depends on various factors, including state laws and workplace policies. It is essential for individuals to be well-informed about their state’s stance on medical marijuana protections.