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, thousands of patients have regained control over their lives and medical treatment options. Unfortunately, not all states have made medical marijuana legal yet, 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 you 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 use card, the patients can be issued a ticket for driving under the influence.
Working while taking medical marijuana
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. 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.
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.
To better protect yourself, medical use patients must look to their state’s 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 duty 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 EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or seek the advice of an Employment Rights Attorney.
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 contradicting policies in direct violation its legal status.
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.
Talk to your doctor today and decide for yourself if medical marijuana is right for you. Once approved for treatment, discuss your options with a qualified legal representative today. No one should have to choose between a job and their health. With most state’s focus on patient care, you might find you don’t have to choose.