Understanding the legal issues surrounding medical cannabis can be confusing. If you look at the history of cannabis use and regulation in the US, it is easy to see why. Despite state-by-state legalization, the fact remains that cannabis is considered illegal under federal law. This can make treading the employment waters a bit tricky for employees. So, what medical cannabis use rights do patients in Minnesota have when it comes to employment? Here’s what you need to know about the basics of medical cannabis use laws in Minnesota and employees’ rights.
Medical Cannabis Law in Minnesota
Minnesota enacted the Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research Act in 2014. The law created a program through the Minnesota Department of Health to assist patients who qualify for medical cannabis to access the medicine they need.
This law allows patients with certain qualifying conditions like cancer, glaucoma, seizures, chronic pain, and more to access cannabis. The state added glaucoma and chronic motor ticks to the list of qualifying conditions in 2021.
It’s important to remember that even though Minnesota allows for medical cannabis, possessing it without medical permission or in quantities over the threshold set by law will still result in legal charges and convictions. (Plus, if you are on federal land, then those rules will trump Minnesota’s laws.)
What Products Are Legal in Minnesota?
Besides taking steps to become a qualified patient, it is essential to understand what products the law allows you to consume. The Minnesota medical cannabis program currently only allows cannabis to be produced by two state manufacturers. The law also prohibits cannabis in the form of flower, leaf, or edibles. Patients in Minnesota can only legally consume oils, pills, liquids, or topical products.
Employee Medical Cannabis Use Rights in Minnesota
If you want to become a medical cannabis patient in Minnesota, you might be wondering what your rights are as an employee. Can you be terminated or have a job offer rescinded because you are a medical cannabis patient? The good news is that Minnesota is one of the few states with specific laws to address this issue.
The Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research Act includes specific protections for employees who are qualified patients. It states that “an employer may not discriminate against a person in hiring, termination or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize a person,” due to a person’s status as a qualified patients “unless the patient used, possessed, or was impaired by medical cannabis on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment.” That means as long as you are restricting the use of your medicine to non-working hours while you are at home, the law protects you as an employee.
While this is great news for cannabis patients, the law has an exception. The law states that the employer does have the right to act against the employee if the failure to discriminate causes the employer to lose money or licensing-related benefits. This exception has the potential to make a few circumstances more complicated. But otherwise, employees who are qualified patients cannot be rejected for testing positive for cannabis (except for pilots, commercial motor vehicle drivers, or other jobs regulated by federal drug testing laws).
Lawful Consumable Products
Patients in Minnesota have additional employee medical cannabis use rights on top of the cannabis law under the Lawful Consumable Products Act. This act prohibits an employer from taking action against employees who consume lawful products on their own time. But since the Medical Cannabis Act protects patients, invoking the lawful consumable products act will probably be unnecessary for protecting cannabis patient’s employment.