Seriously, I need to know.
Yeah yeah yeah, medical marijuana is legal in Maryland now and you’ve got your card. Great!
But you might have a nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right. Maybe your boss seems especially anti-marijuana for some reason, or the other employees all seem to be more straight-laced than you.
Should you hide the fact that you smoke? And worse, if you get drug tested, can your company fire you? Is that even....legal?
The Law Isn’t On Your Side
According to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission website:
Maryland law does not prevent an employer from testing for use of cannabis (for any reason) or taking action against an employee who tests positive for use of cannabis (for any reason).
You read that right. Your boss can test you and fire you if they don’t like that you smoke.
“But wait” you say, “isn’t that unfair if my marijuana is medical?!”
You have a good point. Your boss can’t fire you for taking prescribed prozac or painkillers, which are also medical. So why marijuana?
Turns out this problem has come up before.
Disability Discrimination Laws Are Involved Now
In other states where medical marijuana is legal this issue has already come up in the courts.
So the thing about the Americans with Disabilities Act is that the wording is broad and open to interpretation...and it's a federal act. Federal as in no exceptions for marijuana. Why? Because marijuana is federally recognized as a Schedule 1 drug.
You know, like peyote. And heroin.
So, you aren't protected federally by the ADA, but your individual state disability laws might be a bit more yielding.
It’s a State by State Thing
The problem is that there isn’t really much precedent in Maryland for this kind of thing. And each state seems to rule differently.
Before 2017 it was more likely that your employer could fire you and get away with it.
For instance, in Colorado in 2015 this issue came up in the state court. An employee was fired from a job for using medical marijuana, which he had been licensed to use, and he had never used it at work -- which his employer did not dispute. The court still sided with the employer.
But then things started to turn. Around this time in Massachusetts, a woman was fired from her job after drug test results came back positive for marijuana, even though she was a legal medical marijuana user in that state. In 2017, however, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that she had, in fact, been discriminated against. Then that same year a similar case in Rhode Island went the same way.
I mean, you still can’t smoke on the job if you are, say, a truck driver or a teacher.
But at least precedent is getting, shall we say...cooler.
But Like….is it Safe to Smoke?
Honestly, it might be a good idea to just ask.
If you feel safe doing so you should consider letting HR or a trusted boss know that you are considering getting a medical marijuana license (because you are NOT legally required to tell them you already have one) and ask how that would go over.
HR is not held the same confidentiality standards that a lawyer, doctor, or therapist is held to. Their responsibility is to make sure that things go well for the company as an organization, not necessarily the individual employees.
It still isn’t completely safe, so don’t assume you are good to go, but the trend is looking good right now.