Chronic, debilitating, or life-threatening conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and many others can be treated with medical marijuana. While traditional medical treatments may help some patients, others find that the worst symptoms, especially pain, see no benefit.
Although the federal government and the FDA have not come to a final decision about the future of medical marijuana, many states have taken an unprecedented step by legalizing it for their residents suffering from the worst ailments.
Since 1996 and the passage of the first state’s Compassionate Use Act in California, thousands of patients have regained control over their lives and medical treatment options. Unfortunately, to the day not all states have made medical marijuana legal, creating a dilemma for patients nationwide. Adding to the confusion is the fact that rules and requirements differ among each pro-legalization state, making a complicated situation even harder to navigate.
Who Can Use Medical Marijuana?
While each state’s qualifying conditions list differs slightly, several diseases are common to many. Cancer, HIV/AIDs, PTSD, Cachexia (Wasting Disease), epilepsy, and chronic pain can be covered in many of these states. To find out if a specific condition has been approved for treatment, patients are encouraged to first speak with their medical or mental health practitioner or the state’s health department that is responsible for overseeing the medical marijuana program.
Patients who have been approved to use medical marijuana must have a state-issued ID card to purchase products from a licensed dispensary. This ID should be kept with a patient at all times, not only to permit purchasing but to prove to law enforcement your right to possess cannabis.
Just because a patient has been approved to use medical marijuana doesn’t mean that they can use it indiscriminately. Patients should use caution whenever taking their medicine. Doctors typically recommend that patients be at home or in a location where they will not need to be driving or using heavy machinery after taking their marijuana treatment. Despite having a medical cannabis card, a person can still be arrested and cited for driving under the influence.
Marijuana and Employment
More than two dozen states have passed medical marijuana laws. While some of these states have also implemented measures to protect patients with a valid doctor’s recommendation from workplace discrimination, not all have. We will answer the most common questions about medical marijuana and employment.
Does Having a Medical Marijuana Card Affect Employment?
Typically, employees who have a chronic or debilitating illness are protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) from being fired or reprimanded due to their illness or use of necessary medications. Unfortunately, marijuana, despite the reason, is illegal under federal laws and not protected by ADA regulations. An employer may ask you to take a drug test.
Does an Employer Have to Tell You About Drug Testing?
Patients in pro-medical marijuana states are often caught in this legal loophole. Despite only taking their required dose after work, many find that employers who require drug screening can use this against them. Generally, an employer should provide a written notice that drug testing will be made. However, employers in a safety-sensitive industry are allowed to do drug tests without warning employees in advance.
To better protect yourself, medical use patients must look to their state’s laws as well as pre-employment drug testing laws to determine their rights and responsibilities. Online, NOLO, a publisher of do-it-yourself legal books and software, has compiled a list of the basic rules for each medical marijuana state called State Laws on Off-Outy Marijuana Use. This website can help you know what to expect, no matter where you live, however, if you believe that your rights as a chronically ill patient have been violated contact your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or seek the advice of an Employment Rights Attorney.
What Happens If You Fail a Pre-Employment Drug Test?
The results of a drug test requested by the company will not become public. It means that if you fail a drug test for one employer, you can still apply for a job at a different company. Please note, that if you fail a drug test in a company once, you cannot retake the test and won’t be considered for employment by this enterprise. Your previous drug test results will probably be kept in the company’s records.
The federal government has created a huge legal loophole for countless patients nationwide. Despite research to support the medical community’s opinion that there is a place for marijuana in healthcare, it has refused to entertain laws that would decriminalize cannabis, yet has allowed states to pass their own cannabis laws and policy which are contradictory and basically in direct violation of the federal law treating marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
To further add to the confusion, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), a federal entity, recently approved Epidolex as a treatment for certain types of seizures. Epidolex is made from cannabis, proving that there are benefits to this highly controversial plant. This groundbreaking medication is well on its way to opening up new treatments and therapies for additional products derived from marijuana.
With beneficial medications at our fingertips, it’s no wonder hard-working employees are concerned about the safety of their jobs if they must use them. Don’t allow the confusion with employment protections hinder your right to choose the treatment that works best for your condition.
If you have any questions regarding medical marijuana consumption, talk to one of our representatives. No one should have to choose between a job and their health.