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Medical Marijuana in The Workplace: It's Complicated

Medical marijuana in the workplace has become a highly discussed topic as more states legalize its use for medicinal purposes. Today, employers are faced with the challenge of balancing their employees’ right to use legal medication with maintaining a safe and productive workplace.

One of the main concerns for employers is the potential for employees to be under the influence of marijuana while on the job. While marijuana can have medicinal benefits, it can also impair cognitive function and slow reaction times. Employers are legally obligated to provide a safe working environment while remaining compliant with the often, conflicting laws governing medical marijuana use.


 “Employers remain legally responsible for the actions of their employees while on the job and a marijuana-impaired worker is more likely to cause an accident or make a costly mistake or be less productive than a non-marijuana-using worker.” Bill Current, president of Current Consulting Group


State Laws

State laws vary regarding medical marijuana laws. Some states have laws that protect employees who use medical marijuana, while other states do not. This means that employers may be allowed to terminate employees for using medical marijuana in some states, while in other states it would be considered illegal. Furthermore, state laws are inconsistent when it comes to marijuana use outside of the workplace. Some states allow employers to discipline employees for off-duty use, while others forbid such discipline. It is worth noting that marijuana remains illegal under federal law in the United States, and employers are not required to accommodate the use of medical marijuana in the workplace.


Marijuana Laws Change but the Risks Remain.

As the laws surrounding marijuana usage continue to evolve, it is vital to acknowledge that the consumption of this drug still results in impairment. This must be considered when developing and implementing safety protocols within a corporate setting. Despite changing legal landscapes, employers and employees alike must remain vigilant in maintaining a safe and productive work environment.


Minimize the Risk with Regular Testing

To ensure a safe and productive workplace, it is crucial for business owners to stay informed of the latest laws and regulations surrounding medical marijuana use. One effective way to mitigate the risk of impairment in the workplace is by implementing regular testing protocols. This allows employers to proactively identify and address any potential issues related to medical marijuana use, ensuring the safety and well-being of all employees.


Medical Marijuana Map

An up-to-date map of medical marijuana legalization within the United States can be viewed here.

Medical marijuana is legal in 37 of the 50 states as of February 2022.

Many employers and HR Departments implement drug testing policies and procedures that take into account the use of medical marijuana. Employers can test for the presence of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, but it may not indicate whether the employee is under the influence at the time of the test. Employers can also use other methods to determine impairment such as observing behavior and performance.




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