A medical marijuana card is an identification card issued in a state or country where medical cannabis is recognized. It is only issued to patients who have been diagnosed with a qualified medical condition and have been approved by a licensed doctor.
The question is – can you, the employer, subject medical marijuana card holders to a drug test, whether they’re job applicants or current employees? Can you reject an applicant or fire an employee if and when they test positive for marijuana?
Medical Marijuana Card: What Employers Need to Know
Currently, the laws that surround the possession of the medical marijuana card are confusing for both employees and employers.
Generally, any employee or applicant can be drug tested by an employer. This includes medical marijuana card holders. If and when the test turns out positive, the employer can reject an applicant or fire a current employee. This is to ensure safety and improve productivity in the workplace.
However, there’s a shift regarding the legal use of medical marijuana, so it is very important for employers to check the laws that govern its use in their specific state.
In Arizona, for example, employers cannot fire employees on the basis of a positive drug test alone. Employers should be able to present proof that the employee acted in an impaired manner while on duty. Otherwise, they can run the risk of being sued by their employees, as in the case of Whitmire v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 2019 WL 479842 (D. Ariz. Feb. 7, 2019).
Even a job applicant who holds a medical marijuana card can file a discrimination case against an employer if he or she was rejected based on a positive drug test alone. Case in point: Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co. LLC , 273 F. Supp. 3d 326 (D. 2 Conn. 2017).
Can an Employee Refuse a Drug Test?
If you have a transportation or construction company, an employee cannot refuse a drug test because this is tantamount to getting a positive drug test result. In these industries, where lives and properties can be compromised, the immediate removal of the concerned employee, even if he or she has a medical marijuana card, is necessary.
Otherwise, an employee can refuse, because currently, there are no laws that require employees to take a drug test. But this doesn’t mean that his refusal does not come with repercussions. An employer can fire an employee if he can prove that the latter’s use of marijuana is a threat to the safety of other workers and is affecting the company’s bottom line due to impaired behavior.
Whether an employee has a medical marijuana card or not, it is in your best interest to check out both state and federal medical marijuana laws. Be aware on how to safely and legally drug test your employees so you won’t need to face costly litigation later on.
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