Medical Marijuana in the Workplace

January 30, 2010 – Medical marijuana has caused quite a bit of controversy in the recent months. But how does the legalization of medical marijuana affect employers who drug test?

The passing of Amendment 20, ten years ago made medical marijuana legal but it’s just recently that it’s been gaining popularity. “Within the last year is has increased 80 percent,” says owner of Naturals Wellness Center, Tony Weingartner. It’s drawing patients who hold a variety of jobs. “Doctors, lawyers, people in Congress, we have judges and attorneys,” says Weingartner.

The boom in patients is raising some serious questions, like how to handle medical marijuana in the workplace. The amendment doesn’t give much to go off of. “It allows an employer to prohibit the use of medical marijuana at work but say very little otherwise about the employer’s obligation,” says Damon Davis, attorney at Killian & Davis.

The amendment only protects medical users from “civil and criminal penalties” not from being terminated. A fact that Weingartner found out the hard way. He had a job at a local grocery store, was legally allowed to use marijuana, but still ran into a problem. “Drug enforcement notified me and told me that they were going to notify them and I was going to be terminated for positive marijuana use,” says Weingartner. After a short battle, Weingartner decided not to pursue the issue, but others are. They are trying to use the federal “American with Disabilities Act” to protect themselves. “They would not be protected by the ADA because that’s a federal law,” says Davis. Under federal law, marijuana use is still illegal.

There are state laws that prohibit discrimination against disabled people. “The same way the users of other medications would be,” says Davis. While there is still a lot of gray area with the law, there is a word of advice for businesses that employ medical marijuana users. “Treat it like you would any other prescription medication, can the employee do it safely and legally,” says Davis. It may just save you precious time and money. Because whether you support it or not, “we are approaching 400 patients and there is about 20 dispensaries around town,” says Weingartner, without another vote, Amendment 20 isn’t going anywhere.

State officials say it could be years down the road before any workplace laws are set when it comes to dealing with medical marijuana. Source.

One response to “Medical Marijuana in the Workplace”

  1. Although marijuana does not affect work quality or ethics nearly as bad as alcohol, there is no doubt in my mind that it does affect work to some degree. I agree with treating it like any other prescription medication.

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