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Public school teachers in the United States may be prohibited from using cannabis, even if they possess a medical marijuana card. Many school districts fear losing vital federal funding as the federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal controlled substance.
Learn more about being a teacher and using medical marijuana, including possible disciplinary action and whether CBD may be permissible for educators.
Note that the information in this article does not constitute legal advice, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions regarding marijuana use as a teacher.
Medical Card Rules for Teachers and Education Professionals
Medical card rules vary from state to state and may differ between private and public schools. Regardless, possessing or consuming marijuana could constitute grounds for disciplinary action in any 50 states (as well as the District of Columbia), including those that approve MMJ cards.
In fact, it is possible that you could be fired for using medical marijuana if you are a teacher.
In 2021, Brevard County Schools in Florida sparked debate when they fired Allison Enright for using medical marijuana to cope with a painful medical condition. Enright reported being surprised, as Florida is a state where medical marijuana is legal.
But there are no legal protections for people who use the plant for medical purposes due to its taboo federal status.
Not every state treats teachers’ use of medical marijuana as harshly as Florida. In New Jersey, for example, the state Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that employees may not be fired for medical marijuana use. Employees are protected under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).
However, teachers still need to abide by their school district’s rules, which usually means that they may not be under the influence of marijuana on school grounds or at any school-sponsored function.
School bus drivers are subject to even harsher penalties for using medical marijuana. If convicted of a DUI after operating a motor vehicle with minors on board, the bus driver would be facing not only termination of employment but serious criminal ramifications as well.
On the other hand, students may be permitted to use medical marijuana as long as it is not on school property if the state’s medical marijuana program supports certifying minors. Parents and legal guardians may administer medical cannabis to their children who have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition and have been approved in their state for a medical marijuana card.
In a nutshell, as with most cannabis matters, there is not a single definitive answer or rule.
Does the Type of Teacher You Are Affect Medical Card Rules?
Private school teachers may be subject to different rules and policies regarding medical marijuana.
As long as a school does not rely on federal funds, it is possible that medical marijuana use could be permitted. Of course, state laws also come into play, so it is unlikely that a private school in a state without a medical marijuana program would allow teachers to consume the plant.
In addition, professors at private colleges and universities may be allowed medical marijuana use. These same institutions could prohibit recreational marijuana but make reasonable accommodations for people with certain health conditions. However, medical cannabis use may be limited to an employee’s home and forbidden on school grounds.
Check with your learning institution before using medical marijuana if you are a teacher or school official. Private schools have different policies regarding a drug-free workplace; some may require their educators to take random drug tests. Positive drug tests may result in termination of employment or other penalties.
Using CBD as a Teacher
Cannabidiol (CBD) is not considered an illegal substance at the federal level.
Therefore, you may be able to integrate CBD into your wellness regimen if you are a teacher. But you should verify with your employer before doing so to ensure that you are not violating any policies.
The Bottom Line
Medical cannabis use is prohibited for most public school teachers in the United States because medical marijuana products are considered illegal drugs at the federal level, leading most schools to restrict their use.
Teachers can petition for reasonable accommodations if they have certain health conditions, but some schools have zero-tolerance drug policies and will reject such requests. Other schools and states have more lenient drug policies and may approve such requests.
Consult with your school district and an attorney if you have questions about obtaining a medical marijuana card or using cannabis products as a teacher.