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Does Having a Medical Card Affect Your Job?

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A medical marijuana card should not affect your job in and of itself. However, a positive drug test, or refusal to take a drug test, is a different story. While some states have legal protections for medical marijuana patients, others do not.

As a result, many employees and employers operate in a legal gray area, where the outcome of a positive drug test does not necessarily have a clear path toward either disciplinary actions or employment protection.

Workplace protections for medical marijuana patients vary from state to state, so you must check your state and local laws for the most up-to-date information.

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Which States Protect Medical Marijuana Patients in the Workplace?

For now, states are left to enact their protections for medical marijuana patients. While gaps in the laws exist, many states have worked to codify patient employment protections. Some of these states include:

Some states listed above provide more protections than others; each state’s specific language and protections are unique. Some states prevent employers from firing employees based on the results of a single drug test and an employee’s status as a medical cardholder but do not otherwise have very extensive protections for employees.

States like Pennsylvania offer some basic protections for having a medical card, but how these protections operate in practice needs to be clarified, especially following positive drug test results.

Since federal law still prohibits cannabis entirely, no broad, consistent framework exists to develop legislation protecting medical marijuana patients.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to implement reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. If cannabis were federally legal, it would be easy to imagine a world where medical cannabis use is considered a reasonable accommodation for patients.

The following states also offer protections for employees who consume recreational cannabis outside of work hours and the workplace itself:

Know Your Employer and Workplace Medical Cannabis Policies

Almost no employer will allow you to consume cannabis at your workplace, which is true even in states with extensive patient protections.

Federal and non-federal workplaces with federal contracts above $100,000 must implement a clear workplace drug policy, including drug testing.

If your job is heavily involved with the federal government, you can assume that federal law will supersede state law.

Private employers are not usually required to implement drug testing but may choose to do so. Beyond that, you should try to understand your workplace’s medical cannabis policies to ensure you follow the law and the rules.

Are Medical Marijuana Patients Exempt From Drug Tests?

No. Even if you have a valid medical card, you may be required to take a drug test. The test outcome and any potential punitive measures vary based on specific state laws and your workplace drug policy.

The Bottom Line

We can hope for employment protections to be more consistent and expansive in the future, especially if medical cannabis is made federally legal. Current protections, however, are inconsistent and vary greatly.

It is vital to check the language of your state’s laws and understand your workplace’s drug policy. If you have a medical card, be sure to do your research and avoid consuming cannabis while at your workplace.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you be denied a job if you have a medical card?

No, you cannot be denied a job just because you have a medical card. If you have a medical card but no longer actively use cannabis, you may want to avoid broaching the subject. Even though it is not appropriate for a prospective employer to deny you a role based on your status as a medical marijuana patient, mentioning your status as a medical marijuana user could factor into an employer’s decision-making process.

Can jobs see if you have a medical card?

Unless you are showing your colleagues a medical marijuana card, no, employers cannot see if you have an MMJ card. While many employers have a right to test for drug use in the workplace, you also have a right to keep certain information to yourself. On the other hand, you may still be required to take a drug test. Employers have a right to maintain a “drug-free workplace.”

Should I tell my employer if I have a medical card?

Whether or not you should tell your employer that you have a medical card depends on several factors. If you live in a state with protections for registered medical marijuana users, telling a trusted superior about your status might be beneficial. If you are not actively using cannabis and live in a state without protections for medical cannabis patients, you should consider keeping that information to yourself.

You should not lie, nor should you try to alter the results of a drug test to maintain your role, even if you have a medical card, as this is fraud and could get you in serious trouble.

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