Everything You Need to Know about Medical Marijuana
In 2016, marijuana made its comeback in Pennsylvania for medicinal purposes. This once-illegal drug promises hope to many people with severe conditions, but at the same time, it will be challenging to create standards for the workplace. Even if the employee has clearance to use medicinal marijuana and only does so during off-duty hours, a random drug test from an employer could result in job loss.
Pennsylvania promises to have its medical marijuana program running in 2018, and employment and disability law will continue to find the best ways to protect the employee rights of workers who are cleared to use medical marijuana. Employees who need medical marijuana need to know how the law protects them.
Federal Law on Marijuana
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) considers medical marijuana illegal since the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) labels marijuana illegal for possession and distribution. Therefore, most courts side with ADA and CSA when it comes to cases where employees were using medical marijuana for a condition and lost their job. Although medical marijuana users might not find much help from federal law, the truth is that the medical condition that an employee suffers might constitute as disability discrimination if an employer terminates an employee for using medical marijuana to medicate a specific disability.
Pennsylvania Law on Marijuana
The Medical Marijuana Act governs the standards for the growth, processing , and distribution of medical marijuana to individuals with serious medical conditions. To be eligible for medical marijuana, a individual with one of the seventeen serious medical conditions must receive certification from a medical provider. From there, he or she must also gain an identification card from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health. Medical marijuana can only be dispensed in six specified forms: liquid, tincture, vaporization, topical solution, oil, and pill.
The MMA protects eligible individuals from criminal prosecution for their medical marijuana use, but the law does not protect employed individuals from employer initiated drug tests.
Medical Marijuana Employee Rights
Since the legality of medical marijuana is still new, employers and the government have the special challenge of setting standards in place to protect the rights of employees and employers. Employers must walk the careful line of not violating federal or state law when it comes to medical marijuana. If you suspect that your employer violated your rights, consult a lawyer.
Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania
According to the Medical Marijuana Act, the following conditions qualify for medical marijuana treatment in Pennsylvania.
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Damage to spinal cord nerves with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
- Huntington’s disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Intractable seizures
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Severe, chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin
- Sickle cell anemia
Medical Marijuana Discrimination
Employees are protected from discrimination due to their usage of medical marijuana. Employers are not permitted to fire, threaten, refuse to hire, or retaliate against an employee who is certified to used medical marijuana. Although employers can discipline an employee for being under the influence of medical marijuana, it’s only with the requirement that the employee’s performance dropped due to their prescribed use.
If you believe that your employer has discriminated against you due to your need of medical marijuana, consult an employment lawyer to pursue your legal rights under the law.