Workplace Medical Marijuana: Can It Affect Your Job?
If you have considered getting a medical marijuana card, or are already a legal, medical marijuana cardholder, at some point, you’ve probably thought about your job or career. And how workplace medical marijuana could impact your employment or job opportunities.
Planning to interview for a new job? You may need to pass a drug test. Will an employer understand if you manage your health symptoms with medical marijuana? Having a medical card provides you with legal protections from the state. But those protections, unfortunately, do not always extend to the workplace.
A licensed medical marijuana doctor can legally provide patients with approval to use and consume THC products from a dispensary. However, you may (or may not be) be surprised to learn that your workplace can still legally enforce a drug-free policy. That is because marijuana is still federally prohibited in the United States. Even when it is used under the supervision of a doctor.
While you may not be protected by the law, discussing with your employer or potential employer about workplace medical marijuana may work in your favor. If you are currently a medical marijuana patient or would like to become one in the near future, there are a few things you need to consider.
Know Your Employer and Workplace Medical Marijuana Policies
We encourage all our patients (and future patients) in the workforce to openly discuss drug-free workplace policies with their employers. However, this is something that should only be done if you feel comfortable enough to do so. If you are already an active medical marijuana patient, you are under no obligation to disclose your medical marijuana patient status to your employer.
If you aren’t familiar with your employer’s drug policy, ask! Be sure to include where they stand on medical marijuana use for legal cardholders instead of recreational use. Believe it or not, there are still many people out there who don’t know the difference, so explaining the situation to your employer may benefit you.
Some patients suffering from debilitating health conditions may feel that opioids and other prescription drugs significantly hinder work performance. Many of our patients state that they rely on medical marijuana to do their job without being in severe pain or suffering from PTSD-induced anxiety attacks, seizures, or tremors–whatever their symptoms may be.
Letting your employer know that medical marijuana may improve your work performance (by moderating symptoms) may make them reconsider their stance on medical marijuana. Or modify company policies for employees engaged in doctor-supervised medical cannabis.
If a drug-free workplace is strictly enforced, it’s still very possible that they may be open to excluding those with a physician-approved medical marijuana recommendation.
DocMJ can help by providing a doctor’s note stating you have been approved to use medical marijuana under the care of a licensed medical marijuana doctor. If an employer has requested additional documentation.
Even if your workplace does not enforce any type of drug policy, it still may be helpful to know where they stand specifically for medical marijuana patients. It could be beneficial to you and to others to establish a workplace drug policy with your employer that helps protect those who hold a medical marijuana card.
Ask for Guidelines
If your employer is willing to discuss guidelines regarding medical marijuana, it’s important that you ask questions regarding when and where you can consume medical marijuana products. There are some occupations that cannot be approved for medical cannabis use. That includes jobs that require the operation of machinery, equipment, or motor vehicles (i.e., trucking and logistics, delivery services, and more).
Some employers might ask that you only use marijuana off the clock and not attend your job duties if you have used cannabis that day. Other employers may ask that you do not use products within a specific timeframe from the start of your shift. It’s crucial to know where your employer stands so that you can adhere to their policies.
Mandatory employee drug testing is a concern for patients who use medical cannabis outside of work hours. And if your employer does engage in random drug testing, it may benefit you to disclose your use of medical cannabis. But unfortunately, there is always a risk of punitive action from your employer.
Workplace Medical Marijuana Policies May Change in the Future
As more states continue to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana, it’s very possible that more and more employers will start to modify their drug policies to accommodate employees that are legal medical marijuana cardholders.
Over time, it may become more difficult for employers to turn away or fire skilled employees simply because they consume medical marijuana products for medicinal purposes. It may be challenging to retain employees who fear negative consequences when they can find other employment that approves of medical marijuana use.
Rather than potential employees being turned away for marijuana use, those employees may begin turning away employers for having policies that are not accommodating to their health and well-being. And for some patients with debilitating symptoms who are unable to use medical cannabis, work may be impossible.
Some states have already created legislation that would expand workplace medical marijuana protections for employees. Statutes that prevent employers from refusing to hire, or adverse action against workers for off-duty use of cannabis (medical or recreational) are in place in Connecticut, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, and Rhode Island. And many other states are moving in that direction as well.
The Decision to Disclose is Up to You
If you are a medical marijuana patient or would like to become a patient, and are seeking new employment, be sure to inquire about the company’s drug policy. During an interview, you may want to consider asking where they stand on medical marijuana.
Disclosing your medical marijuana patient status may seem like a bold move to make during an interview. However, failing a pre-employment drug test may deem you to be an untrustworthy and dishonest candidate. Ultimately, the decision to disclose being a medical marijuana patient to your employer or future employer is up to you. And you have the right to privacy about your health information protected by law.
Become a Medical Marijuana Patient Today
If you’re ready to start the process of obtaining your medical marijuana card, schedule your risk-free appointment with one of our licensed medical marijuana doctors today! For any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team of compassionate renowned physicians, Medical Assistants, and Patient Care Coordinators are happy to help you every step of the way.