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If you’re looking for a new job or if you think your current employer might be doing a background check on you, you could be concerned that your medical marijuana usage will show up. This is a rather complicated issue, because there are a lot of unknowns at play (including your state’s current laws, the type of job you’re applying for, and so on), so here’s some general information that can help you answer the question “Can my employer find out if I have a medical marijuana card?”.
A lot of companies require you to go through a background check before you’re hired. This can include a general report that will show if you’ve been convicted of any crimes, what your educational background looks like, and/or your previous work history. It’s possible for potential employers to do more extensive background checks, such as into your credit history and some specific health inquiries, if you’re applying for more stringent careers in areas like law enforcement, the military, or anything with children. In a straightforward background search, your medical marijuana (MMJ) card will not turn up.
At this time, there is not a specific database that lists MMJ cardholders (other than the one used by your state to issue you a card). Employers do not generally have access to a government database like this, and even that one typically issues you a user ID so that your personal info like name and address are not listed. Additionally, because marijuana is becoming legal recreationally in more states, there isn’t a quick way for employers to determine if you’re a cannabis user (other than a drug test, of course).
If for some reason your potential or current employer discovers that you have an MMJ card, there aren’t any specific laws that protect you against discrimination. MMJ users are not a protected class under the law. It is up to the discretion of your employer to determine if they want to keep you on as an employee or still hire you.
Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the many benefits of MMJ products and how they can help with a number of both physical and emotional medical conditions. Because the laws are changing constantly surrounding medical marijuana usage, it’s possible that more legal protections will be put into place in the future (although these could also vary from state to state). At this time, prospective employers can legally decide not to hire you just because you have an MMJ card.
It is possible for you to lose your job because you have an MMJ card. This can happen if employers somehow discover you’re using MMJ products (perhaps through a drug test you aren’t able to pass). If this happens, you can try to explain why you use the products, although because of HIPAA protections, you’re not required to disclose any personal medical info to your employer. If you feel comfortable providing your employer with more information, you can try showing a doctor’s note to indicate that you’re using these products under the direction of a physician.
There have been cases of some individuals who sued their employer for discrimination because they felt they were unfairly terminated due to their MMJ usage. You always have the option of seeking legal advice if you think you’ve been treated unjustly.
There are some steps you can take to retain some privacy surrounding your MMJ usage. First off, you can pay to do a background check on yourself. These services typically cost around $20 a month; it can be a useful process in order for you to see firsthand what potential employers will find when they conduct a background check on you.
You should also do a quick Google search of yourself. This can be really illuminating in what your web presence looks like (and is a trick that many employers are using these days to learn more about who they’re thinking of hiring). Within this same vein, do a thorough search of your own social media profiles to see if there are any posts or pics that suggest you use marijuana. Even if you use products solely for medical reasons, any pictures of you smoking or eating edibles could be interpreted in the wrong way by employers.
This probably goes without saying, but obviously, you should never use your MMJ products while on the job or come to work incapacitated. There are plenty of ways to fit MMJ products into your daily life without negatively impacting your job.
The good news is that if you’re fairly private about your MMJ usage, it’s likely that current or future employers will be kept unaware of you owning an MMJ card. However, since you’re not specifically protected under the law from discrimination, you could miss out on employment opportunities or be fired anyway. If this happens, you have options to explain your MMJ usage, or you can simply find another position that might work better for your situation.
Just remember that honesty is always the best policy – it’s never a good idea to lie about your MMJ usage if it comes up. Be as honest as you can without disclosing private information you don’t wish to share, and you might find that some employers can be more accepting of your MMJ card ownership.