As public opinion and state laws about cannabis continue to evolve, it’s understandable that employees are confused about these laws’ implications in the workplace. If you have a medical cannabis card in Maryland, you can safely access cannabis without worrying about legal trouble. But does that mean you have employee medical cannabis use rights? And can you get fired from your job if you are a medical cannabis patient in Maryland? This article will explain the laws of medical cannabis in Maryland and how they can affect the workplace.
Employee Medical Cannabis Use Rights in Maryland
Maryland Medical Cannabis Law allows residents to acquire medical cannabis recommendations from certified physicians in Maryland for qualifying medical conditions. With this recommendation, you can apply for a state-issued Maryland Medical Marijuana Card, which can be used to purchase medical cannabis from dispensaries freely.
While these laws protect you from any fines or criminal prosecution from using cannabis, it is still a grey area for how it can impact an employer’s ability to refuse to hire or terminate. Here’s why.
Does Legalization Equal Job Protection?
Unfortunately, cannabis is still considered illegal under federal law. Because federal laws override state laws, your employer is not required to accommodate cannabis usage under Maryland medical cannabis laws. When it comes to court rulings on workplace accommodation, the courts uphold that cannabis is considered an intoxicant and not a protected substance. And neither the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (MFIPA) or any Maryland agency ever overturned this reasoning.
Can I Be Terminated for Medical Cannabis Use in Maryland?
The bottom line is if your employer tests you and you do test positive for cannabis, it’s up to your employer what happens. Each employer will have its own company drug-use policies that need to be followed. But the good news is you do have rights and will not be terminated solely for possessing a medical cannabis card. In fact, many employers don’t have a problem with cannabis usage as long as you do your job well, and it doesn’t affect the productivity, quality, and safety of the employee and the workplace. But there are specific industries that are stricter than others about medical cannabis use, and for good reason.
A great example of a strict industry is transportation. Because intoxicating cannabinoids like THC can negatively affect driving performance, these employers are more likely to prohibit cannabis use. Sectors that have employees who operate heavy machinery will also not likely allow for medical cannabis, as well as the construction industry. But in many other industries, medical cannabis use doesn’t impact the nature of the work, and some of these employers are beginning to rethink their drug-free policies to provide more leeway.
What About Medical Cannabis During Non-Working Hours?
As far as employment goes, the same laws apply to employees that use cannabis at home and fail a drug test. So even if you only use cannabis at home, you must still follow your employer’s policies. Maryland law upholds the right of the employer to drug test for any reason. And the law gives the employer the right to act against the employee that tests positive for cannabis despite why it is used.
Final Thoughts on Employee Medical Cannabis Use Rights in MD
The good news is that there is a nationwide trend for employers to leave out cannabis on a drug test. Companies realize that disqualifying potential new employees based on them being medical cannabis patients will make it hard for them to find new talent to hire. We can look forward to this trend continuing until testing for cannabis will be a thing of the past.