Medical Marijuana in California? Not on the Job

Grow House 078As a person, you may have one opinion on medical marijuana. As an employer, your opinion may differ drastically. If an employee in your hire approaches you and advises you that he or she has been prescribed medical marijuana, are you required to allow the drug in your workplace? Not if you live in California.

More states across the nation are legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana, prompting both employees and employers to question just what place the drug has in the work environment. While employers in California may choose to accommodate their employees, they are not forced to do so.

In fact, an employer retains the right to discipline or terminate an employee for drug use, even if that use is prescribed by a physician.

Many supporters of medicinal marijuana point to the Compassionate Use Act which ensures that those who use the drug to alleviate medical symptoms are not subject to prosecution or criminal sanctions. What people must understand is that this Act does not extend into the workplace.

According to the California Supreme Court, while California may have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, federal law has not followed suit. An employer may not fire or refuse to hire persons based upon their use of medical marijuana, but they can discipline or terminate those who use the drug. This is why the law is hazy at best.

As an employer, it is in your best interest to put a policy in place, no matter which side of the marijuana fence you are on.

If you choose to not tolerate illegal drug use, make it clear in a policy. You must, however, offer the option to speak to HR representatives for possible accommodations for any employee carrying a medicinal marijuana card.

What do you do when an employee with a card approaches you and tells you they need to smoke? Send them home.

You should be aware that according to both California law and the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are required to speak with your employee. You should make every attempt to come up with mutually acceptable accommodations for that employee. Also note that you do not have to accommodate the employee in the way he or she desires if that accommodation would be prohibitive to the work environment or productivity.

If you have any questions with regards to the use of medicinal marijuana in the workplace or your responsibilities as an employer, an experienced attorney may be able to assist you.

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