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Your medical marijuana status is a part of your personal health information. Because of this, it’s protected by certain laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which does not allow for protected medical information to show up on a background check.
However, there are ways that this information can be available to the public and could be of concern in areas of your life, such as in your workplace. Here’s what you need to know about the status of medical marijuana cards, the existence of a medical marijuana registry, and how much information people can find out about you in relation to your MMJ use.
In general, states with medical marijuana laws do have some sort of medical marijuana registry for patients. It’s a requirement to apply through the state’s registry for an MMJ card so they can certify that you meet that state’s requirements for medical marijuana.
The registry does not provide information about your medical history to anyone, but it’s important to understand that you will be registered in order to get your MMJ card and the rights it entitles you to receive. Marijuana dispensaries and clinics generally must enter your MMJ use in the state’s medical marijuana registry.
Some people may be concerned about exactly what information is out there about their medical marijuana use. This is understandable, since medical marijuana remains illegal on a federal level. What’s important to remember in this scenario is that a state’s medical marijuana registry system will not contain your personal information. In most cases, you’ll be assigned a unique user identification number associated with you and the information that is needed.
If you look at your MMJ card, you may notice it also has no information on it about things like your diagnosis. It simply contains your name, the card’s dates of issue and expiration, and your ID number. Some states do require a date of birth and address as well, but never any protected medical information.
While most states with medical marijuana laws offer you protections under state law from the prosecution of having and using marijuana, these protections may not apply to your job. An employer can refuse to hire if you take a drug test as a condition of being hired and it comes back positive.
It’s been the position of the courts thus far that state protections only apply to criminal prosecution, not employment. Check the laws in your state to see if there are MMJ protections for employment or not, as some states have passed non-discrimination laws concerning medical marijuana.
You should not feel as if the use of medical marijuana is a dirty secret to be kept; but, understandably, you wouldn’t want just anyone to have access to the information. After all, this is information related to medical diagnosis and treatment – something most people want to keep to themselves.
HIPAA protects patient privacy and prevents health care information from being disclosed on purpose or accidentally. When it comes to medical marijuana laws, HIPAA rules apply. Medical marijuana dispensaries only have access to a card’s validity, not any of the private medical information related to the prescription of it.
Just as with any of your other medical records, medical marijuana cards are confidential, and no third party is granted access without your express consent. But when it comes to an employer and their background checks, some of the criteria they may search for can reveal certain medical records. They won’t see your medical history, but they may request permission to perform health checks with your background checks, depending on the type of job you are applying for. You must still give your permission for this, but choosing not to let them do it may impact your ability to get the job.
Honesty is always the best policy, but medical marijuana is an area that is often fraught with confusion and controversy. It’s not possible to say how an employer may react to the knowledge that you have a medical marijuana card or why you were prescribed it. You simply need to use your best judgment for what you choose to disclose and what you don’t.