August 22nd, 2018

Medical Marijuana and the Workplace

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Author: Darla J. McClure

Medical Marijuana in the Workplace

With Medial Marijuana now legal in Maryland, employers question how to handle an employee who tests positive for marijuana.  While many employers currently have policies in place that prohibit the use of marijuana, what does this mean if an employee is legally authorized to use marijuana for medical purposes.  Unfortunately, this is only made more confusing because the use of marijuana is still illegal under federal law pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act.

Regardless of the new medical marijuana law, in Maryland, employers remain allowed to maintain a drug-free workplace and therefore are still permitted to: (1) refuse to hire someone who fails a drug test due to the presence of marijuana in their system, and (2) terminate an employee who fails a drug test due administered pursuant to company policy.

Notwithstanding, employers are getting requests to allow medical marijuana use as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act and state and local disability laws.  The types of diseases and conditions that medical marijuana can treat are some of the same diseases and conditions that fall under the definition of a disability.  There are some states that have addressed this disability discrimination issue explicitly by enacting statutory provisions prohibiting an employer from discriminating against an applicant or employee for using medical marijuana lawfully.  Maryland however is not one of them.  And so far, the Courts in Maryland have also been reluctant to extend the disability protection to medical marijuana users.

With the ever-changing landscape surrounding the use of medical marijuana and marijuana use in generally, it is best to contact your employment counsel to help navigate through these issues.