Answer

If an employee uses medical marijuana, can they be terminated if they test positive for marijuana?

Medical marijuana laws vary by state and it’s important that employers address the specific laws that pertain to their company and employees when creating a drug testing policy. Each state has its own system of medical marijuana laws, which may or may not include bills that provide explicit employment protections. For example, in California, legislation allows employers the right to terminate an employee who tests positive for marijuana, even if they hold a medical marijuana card.

In addition to state laws, employers must also address federal standards pertaining to  workers’ comp, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), unemployment benefits, drug-free workplace laws, and state handicap/discrimination laws. Even in states where legalized, the laws do not protect an employee that is impaired while at work, under the influence, or using on the job, especially when working in a safety-sensitive position. While a workplace drug test will detect THC, in most instances, the same test will not determine “impairment.” This is why documenting suspicious behavior and implementing manager training for reasonable suspicion and probable cause will help determine if an employee is impaired while on the job.

Medical marijuana laws vary by state and it’s important that employers address the specific laws that pertain to their company and employees when creating a drug testing policy. Each state has its own system of medical marijuana laws, which may or may not include bills that provide explicit employment protections. For example, in California, legislation allows employers the right to terminate an employee who tests positive for marijuana, even if they hold a medical marijuana card. For example: Imagine you have an employee who lives in Arizona but works in California, and the employee has a medical marijuana card in which they use in private. Arizona protects employees from discrimination while holding a medical marijuana card, but in California, an employer may fire employees who test positive for marijuana, even if the use was off-duty and for a medical condition with a valid medical marijuana card. To avoid litigation in this scenario, it would be advisable to treat this employee based on Arizona laws.

It is pertinent for you, as an employer, to have a policy in place for when this occurs and to follow each states' medical marijuana laws accordingly.

Drug and Alcohol Testing related

What is DISA program?

DISA offers several programs accommodating industry-specific workplace safety needs, including background check, drug and alcohol testing, DOT-mandated services, occupational health, transportation compliance, entertainment compliance, and more.

Oklahoma’s medical marijuana law prohibits an employer from refusing to hire, discipline, or penalize an applicant or employee based solely on a marijuana-positive drug test. Recently they passed legislation that creates an exception for positions involving safety-sensitive duties. This includes positions that involve duties that an employer reasonably believes could impact the health and safety of the employee or others. Examples of safety-sensitive positions include, but aren’t limited to, operating motor vehicles, equipment, machinery, or power tools, dispensing pharmaceuticals, direct patient or child care, or handling, packaging, processing, storing, disposing, or transporting hazardous materials, etc. Employers should establish which positions are safety-sensitive within their company and provide a clear and concise written drug testing policy abiding by Oklahoma medical marijuana laws. Once that’s complete and you share it with your employees, you should be in good shape!