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Cannabis at Work? Here’s an Introduction to the Complicated Relationship

No one can deny the remarkable evolution of cannabis as a medicine that we all needed. From cancer and PTSD to anorexia and insomnia, it has the ability to relieve dozens of different medical conditions. Such increasing popularity is the reason why getting 420 evaluations has become easier than ever. You can just go online and find a trustworthy clinic to get your MMJ recommendation without leaving your home. 

But, while a medical card gives several exclusive benefits like legal security and financial relief to the cardholder, there is one exception that still leaves some hesitation among cannabis consumers- employment.

Despite the legalization of medical cannabis in the state of California, the employment policies are a little complicated. So, let us understand the connection between medical cannabis and jobs. 

The Zero Tolerance Drug Use Policies

Generally, a workplace abides by zero-tolerance drug use policies in which using drugs like marijuana and alcohol is not allowed in the office premises. It usually involves a drug test for the new employee before the beginning of their term or at random in between their serving term. If the test results are positive, the employer gets the power to relive the employee from their duty on the grounds of zero-tolerance policy. 

Now, it’s important to understand the need for this policy at the workplace. It is the duty of the employer to maintain a safe environment at the workspace. And the use of drugs including marijuana compromises this security. It leads to the risk of dangerous situations and injuries. According to the report of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people who tested positive for marijuana had 55 percent more industrial accidents, 85 percent more injuries and 75 percent more absent mindedness compared to those who tested negative. 

The Complication: State vs Federal Government

When it comes to making work policies for the employees, the employers have the freedom to make the changes as per their requirements and company values. So, when it comes to the use of cannabis in a workplace in a state such as California, where recreational as well as medical cannabis is legal, the discretion is with the employers. 

But, the complication in this regard exists because of the differing rules of the state and the federal government. As per the Controlled Substance Act of the Federal Government, cannabis is still a Schedule 1 drug and hence illegal. In that case, the zero tolerance policy makes more sense. But at the same time, the state government has legalized medical as well as recreational cannabis. So, not offering jobs or firing people on the basis of their marijuana use can call for discrimination claims on the employer. 

This difference between the laws makes it difficult for a company to make policies that allows more employement and no discrimination. 

The Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications, Inc. 

In 2008, the California Supreme Court held in Ross v Ragingwire Telecommunications, Inc. stated that the employers were under no compulsion to accept applicants who tested positive for drug use. This includes the use of medical marijuana. 

While there have been several oppositions to the statement, this rule is followed by most employers. But ultimately, the acceptance of medical marijuana depends on the company and its policies. 

Is There Any Hope for Medical Cannabis Consumers?

Medical cannabis has many supporters in the political as well as the non-political area. This is the reason why there are many bills that ask for the acceptance of medical marijuana consumers in the workplace. 

Once such bill is the “AB 2355” introduced in February 2020. It asks for the amendment of the Fair Employment and Housing Act to provide employment protection to MMJ users. So, the employer will not have the right to take any adverse action on the employee if he or she is a registered medical marijuana patient. 

So, when it comes to the privileges of a medical cannabis card, employment may not be on your side yet. But, with five more states legalizing medical cannabis and the election of a new President of the United States, the odds may get into your favor. All we can do is hope for the best.

In light of the COVID pandemic, we advise all our patients to see a doctor online instead of visiting the clinic. Help us flatten the curve by opting for an online 420 evaluation.