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The use of medical marijuana is becoming more and more popular as states legalize it for both medical and recreational use. The use of medical marijuana often comes into question in the employment sphere. Even in states with very progressive medical marijuana laws, some employers still have a zero-tolerance drug policy.
There are some interesting questions surrounding the use of medical marijuana in the workplace, including “Can you get fired for having an MMJ card?”. Here’s everything you need to know.
You may have the right to legally use marijuana in your state, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your job is protected if you exercise your right to use medical marijuana. Unless the marijuana laws in your state specifically prohibit an employer from firing you for marijuana use when you’re not at work, then chances are you are not protected.
Many states do grant employees protect under medical marijuana laws; you simply need to familiarize yourself with those laws in order know where you stand. In Illinois, for example, there are laws that impede employers from firing employees who use medical marijuana unless they can prove they were impaired while at work. In states with laws such as this, an MMJ card means employers can’t fire you as long as your medical marijuana use doesn’t impact your work.
There are numerous other states, however, that permit employers to fire employees for off-duty use of medical marijuana. If the laws aren’t clear, the courts will have to decide, and many have been siding with employers. For example, in Colorado, a man was fired for testing positive for marijuana and the state Supreme Court upheld the firing.
The truth of the matter is that until the U.S. Supreme Court or the United States Congress address this issue, laws will vary from place to place. The best course of action for those with MMJ cards is to be familiar with the laws in your state.
In order to get an MMJ card, you must have the approval of a doctor. Therefore, your MMJ card status is likely contained in your medical records. So can your employer access that?
You have the right to confidentiality, but your employer can ask the questions they need in order to assess any reasonable adjustments you may need in order to work. But they cannot ask for a copy of your medical records without your permission.
The mere fact that a medical practitioner must approve you for an MMJ card means that it is information protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This information will not show up on any background check that an employer may perform.
You have the right to confidentiality when it comes to your medical records. Even your MMJ card, though it is not technically under the protection of HIPAA as a state-issued card, has the protection of implied consent surrounding it, since it can give some idea of what may be contained in your health records.
If you feel you’ve been discriminated against due to your medical marijuana card status, there may be legal recourse for you. Depending on the state in which your live, an employer may have to make reasonable accommodations for your use of medical marijuana in order to treat a medical condition. But other states do allow an employer to fire or even deny a job to someone for off-duty medical marijuana use.
The key is to look up the laws surrounding medical marijuana use (or even recreational marijuana use) in your state. Then, if you feel you are being treated unfairly under local laws, you can make a choice on how to proceed.
If you’re interested in getting a medical marijuana card in your state, MMJRecs can help! Get in touch with us today.