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Employers Stuck in a Haze About Jobs for Medical Marijuana Patients

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Employers nationwide are still having a hard time determining whether an employee’s medical marijuana use is grounds for termination or not. Many companies have drug-free workplace policies. Marijuana might be legal for medicinal use in some states, but it’s still illegal federally, so this is where employers are struggling.

Not all states have provisions protecting medical marijuana patients’ jobs, Rochester Business Journal reports. In Arizona, Delaware, New York and Minnesota patient jobs are protected. In New York, for example, the New York Human Rights Law defines medical marijuana users as “disabled.” Employers having four (or more) employees can’t fire an employee because he/she is a medical marijuana patient.

In Arizona and Delaware, employers cannot terminate employees after a positive drug test if they are a medical marijuana cardholder. Also, in Arizona, unless it would cost the employer significant funding, they may not terminate or deny employment to anyone solely because of their medical marijuana patient status.

In Arizona, Delaware and New York, employers can enforce policies prohibiting the use of medical marijuana on employer property or during work hours.

Several states have no provisions to protect medical marijuana patients. In California, employers don’t have to be accommodating of an employee’s off-duty medical marijuana use. Employers can still terminate employees for using medical marijuana, whether it’s on personal time or not.

Neither Colorado nor Ohio protect patients, even if using medical marijuana is done after work hours or during off-duty periods.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is often used as a defense mechanism for employees whose medicinal choices aren’t protected. This, however, rarely works as marijuana is still federally illegal.

In states with medical marijuana, employers are encouraged to read the law – in its entirety – to see if any provisions are in place. If no provision exists to protect a medical marijuana patient’s job, the employer is not required to maintain their employment due to their medical marijuana patient status.