The Bong-Fog Surrounding Medical Marijuana and Employment

Many federal, state and local laws concerning the legal use of marijuana are in direct opposition to one another.  Caughtmedical marijuana in the middle are people needing relief from pain and well-meaning employers who want to do the right thing.  A central issue has been whether workers’ comp should cover the cost of medically prescribed marijuana in the 14 states that have legalized it, plus the District of Columbia.  Another issue is whether employees can have any traces of marijuana in their system when at work.

Some of the questions both Human Resource Directors and employees who legally use marijuana have are:
  • Are medical marijuana users exempt from my anti-drug policies?
  • Can I fire or refuse to hire an employee for using medical marijuana?
  • Would I be breaching federal contracts if I don’t enforce a no-drug policy?
  • How will medical marijuana use impact an employer’s mandatory drug testing?
  • Should an employee even inform an employer of their legal marijuana use?

In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers can refuse to accept medical marijuana as a reasonable explanation of a positive drug test. In 2005, the Court ruled that the federal government may enforce the Controlled Substances Act’s prohibition on marijuana use for medical purposes, even on those who use the drug under state laws.

Because Federal Law still categorizes marijuana illegal for any purpose, the American’s With Disabilities Act – which is a federal statute – provides no protection.  Alternatively, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act says a person “shall not be subject to disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board of bureau” for using marijuana in accordance with the act. But, it also says the law doesn’t require an employer to accommodate the ingestion of the drugs in the workplace or an employee working while under the influence.

Many argue the real question is:  does an employer in the state of Michigan have a requirement to permit an employee to use medical marijuana outside the workplace and then come into the workplace with some levels of marijuana in their system?  Utilizing the bright-lined rule for the Michigan Marijuana Act the answer is YES, employers must permit this scenario not only because they are not allowed to take a disciplinary action against a person legally medicating; but, also because the affect of not permitting it would only allow Patients who are unemployed to use regularly to alleviate their medical condition or symptom.

This is NOT the intent of the law.  The intent is that Patients are able to use marijuana to treat their medical condition without fear of any sanction.

That being said, the law doesn’t require an employer to accommodate the ingestion of the drug in the workplace or an employee working while under the influence.  So, what is under the influence?  There is no legal standard for measuring marijuana impairment and the issue can become murky, said Melanie Brim, director of the Bureau of Health Professions within the Michigan Department of Community Health.

For more answers to frequently asked medical marijuana questions click here

Do you think employers should be able to fire employees for havIing any traces of marijuana in their system?


1 Comment

Filed under Discrimination Laws, Employee Rights, Marijuana, Medical Marijuana

One response to “The Bong-Fog Surrounding Medical Marijuana and Employment

  1. Pingback: Where Did Prop. 19 Go Wrong? « Ambrose Law Group

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