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Posted 01/24/2023 in Culture by HappyMD

Can You Lose Your Job for Getting High at Work?

Can You Lose Your Job for Getting High at Work?

Check Out if You Can You Lose Your Job for Getting High at Work?

The number of states legalizing recreational and medicinal marijuana in the United States has been gradually growing in recent years. The increase in marijuana usage in the United States has left employees or workers wondering if the marijuana regulation protects them from losing their jobs due to using marijuana in workplaces.


Many states, including the District of Columbia, allow residents to legally access and purchase marijuana for medical purposes. Besides allowing marijuana for medical purposes, some states are legalizing recreational marijuana use. States with legal recreational or adult marijuana use include Washington, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Alaska.


While the states have legalized recreational or medicinal marijuana, it doesn't mean you have the right to smoke or consume it anywhere, including your place of work. Every workplace has strict guidelines and rules to which all employees should adhere. Surveys show that most employers in the United States require their employees to adhere to zero-tolerance drug policies. Nevertheless, things are getting complex as some states have started issuing protection to their MMJ patients while some fail to protect their patients.


This post provides a comprehensive insight into the complicated issue of using marijuana at work.


What Issues Will You Face for Being High at Work?


The Pew Research Center data reveals that approximately 90% of Americans prefer some marijuana legalization forms. The statistics explain that nearly 46% of individuals staying in the United States have at one point tried consuming marijuana, with 11% having used the drug in the past month.


Studies show that individuals residing in legal marijuana states must deal with and adjust to the new reality. Besides the residents, employers and employees have to think about the issue of consuming marijuana at a fundamental and more advanced level. Remember, reports show that employees who use marijuana, regardless of whether it's medicinal or recreational, have to deal with the suspicions and regulations from their employers.


Enjoying your joint and getting high before going to work sounds appealing and can give you the energy to keep going. Most employees have admitted that they work better and produce the best results when slightly high. Despite most states legalizing marijuana, most employees do not permit the drug in the workplaces, premises, or around the workplace.


Nevertheless, it's certainly clear that your boss won't accept or allow you to work while stoned, regardless of your work performance after consuming marijuana. Like most employers don't tolerate drunkenness while at work, they also can't allow you to work while you're high. While no boss wants a stressed employee at their premises, they'll also not want you to produce poor results or be incompetent from getting high at work. Company liability is the main issue that most employees are usually against you getting high at the place of work.


For example, when working as a mechanic, smoking marijuana and getting high on the job may lead to poor results and endanger your life. The bold move by employers to restrict marijuana use while at work is based on common sense rather than the company's policies.


Regardless of the company or state where you work, stoning and getting high in your workplace can lead to various forms of punishment. Most employers punish employees who smoke marijuana or get high at their workplace by terminating their contracts or firing them.


Do the State Medical Marijuana Laws Protect Users from Losing Their Jobs?


Despite some states allowing residents to use recreational and medical marijuana legally, the right to use the drugs doesn't guarantee job protection or protection from employers for smoking at job promises or getting high at a job. However, the laws can only favor you when residing in some states that specifically offer you job protection by restricting employers from relieving employees who use marijuana off-duty. You may only be lucky if you reside in states with job protection regulations.


Medical Marijuana


With the multiple therapeutic benefits of marijuana, most states have legalized the medical use of this herb and offer patients job protection. Legislatures in states like Delaware, Arizona, Illinois, etc., have passed various laws preventing employers or companies from firing employees who use marijuana to alleviate different conditions.


However, the law allows employers to relieve employees of duties when marijuana use appears to impair their performance or output. A valid medical cannabis prescription will be vital in these states to offer job protection. The prescription prevents your employers from firing you due to using marijuana off-duty. Nevertheless, the MMJ card may not guarantee job protection when you get high or when using marijuana affects your performance.


The scenario may be different in other states having medical marijuana laws. Some states allow employers or companies to terminate contracts or fire employees for using marijuana even when off duty. Remember, some of these states do not provide guidance or address the issue, leaving you at the mercy of employers and companies. Reports show that courts in most states that don't have a clear directive on marijuana usage in workplaces have ruled in favor of companies or employers.


For instance, in 2015, the Supreme Court in Colorado upheld the decision of a company to fire a quadriplegic man. The man had tested positive for marijuana during a rapid drug screening or testing following an off-job use of the drug. Nonetheless, in recent cases, some states have reversed the trend and the move by employers to fire employees based on marijuana use. For instance, the state Supreme Court in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the Massachusetts federal courts reversed the move on companies to fire employees who were using marijuana for medical purposes.


Until the country's Congress or Supreme court addresses the issue of employees firing medical marijuana employers, the whole law remains unbalanced and unclear. Thus, it'll be wise to understand your specific state's laws on marijuana use or consult an employment lawyer. The laws will guide you on the appropriate steps after your employer fires you for using medical marijuana off-duty.


Recreational Cannabis


With some states adopting recreational marijuana, these laws are still new in the country. However, studies show that more states are considering passing these laws to allow adult marijuana use. While the laws allow citizens to use marijuana for recreational purposes, the states don't offer job protection. Thus, employers and companies can lay you off for the off-duty use of recreational marijuana.


In most states, the MMJ laws state that they want to work independently without interfering with the employer's ability to enforce various policies, including zero-tolerance of drugs. For example, in California, the recreational cannabis use laws state that employers have the right to screen applicants and employees for drugs, including marijuana. Besides screening the employees, employers are free and have the right to maintain a drug-free job place or premises.


Getting High at WorkPlaces


Employers or companies can lay you off for marijuana use despite how the drug helps to keep you active and produce great results. Remember, the federal government still prohibits the use of this drug and even classifies it as a Schedule I drug. With restriction, it'll be wise to understand your employer's or company's policies on marijuana use before you start consuming the herb. You can get the policy guidance by enquiring with the specific company's Human Resources department to check and understand their drug screening policies.


Federal and state laws allow employers to set policies and regulation for recreational marijuana uses among employees at the workplace, similar to how they set policies guiding alcohol use. Generally, most employers will prohibit or ban the use of cannabis during working hours or when employees are at work. Furthermore, the employees may bar all employees from working or attending to their duties while high or after stoning.


Most companies or employers have a progressive discipline policy. The application of this policy is important in enforcing the different rules and guidance on non-medical marijuana use in workplaces.


Remember, employers have the duty or responsibility to accommodate marijuana use for medical purposes. Thus, when having a medical marijuana prescription, employers should accommodate you and allow you to use the drug to alleviate your condition. Besides medical purposes, employers shouldn't allow or accommodate marijuana use for other reasons, including the use of marijuana as a bad back or religious observance.


Nevertheless, the biggest hurdle employers have to deal with is understanding the appropriate time when accommodation is imminent. Thus, it's your duty as an employee to make your employer understand your needs, as it can be daunting from an employer's reasoning or point of view. For example, your employer finds requesting your medical or diagnosis history challenging. Alternatively, they can be concerned about the drug's limitation on your ability to carry out your functions.


Experts reveal that employers talking to their employees about marijuana use is becoming vital in the next few years or decades. Furthermore, it'll be important for the federal and state government to draft clear regulations and rules to ensure that employers and employees view the concept of getting high or using medical marijuana on the same page or line.

 Can You Lose Your Job for Getting High at Work?

Marijuana in the California Courts


Despite the reputation of the state (California) having the best recreational and medical marijuana laws, the state doesn't offer users job protection. The law allows employers or companies to lay off an employee for using marijuana off-duty or on the job.


Your employer can legally terminate your contract after you fail a random drug test. Furthermore, state laws allow companies to dismiss your application or refuse to hire you if you return a positive marijuana test during a pre-employment drug screening.


This state has a comprehensive 'at will' doctrine, allowing employers to lay off staff or employees for valid reasons in line with the company's regulations or policies. However, the doctrine prohibits firing the employees in the circumstances the court decides, or the legislature finds unlawful. Despite residents trying to fight the states to relax the regulations on using marijuana outside workplaces, California sticks to this law.


The Ross vs. RagingWire case in 2008 proceeded all the way to the California Supreme Court. The plaintiff (Gary Ross) alleged that his former employer (RagingWire) had discriminated against him based on his disability. The company had fired Gary Ross after he returned a positive marijuana test in a rapid drug screening. Nevertheless, Mr. Ross complained that He was using medical marijuana for medical purposes to alleviate severe back pain.


In the ruling, the California Supreme Court favored the company. The court said that every employer is under no obligation to allow employees to use marijuana for medical purposes at workplaces. Thus, employers have the right to legally fire or dismiss employees on the basis of using the herb at work.


While California allows legal recreational marijuana use, there are no significant changes in the employer vs. employee law. Thus, your employees can still dismiss you for using medical marijuana off-duty or at home. Remember, most employers lay off workers after failing a random drug screening test.


States Offering Job Protection for Marijuana Users


Some state legislatures have enacted various regulations and laws protecting marijuana users from losing their jobs due to using the herb. These states allow staff or workers to use medical marijuana to alleviate their condition and continue with their responsibilities.


In 2014, New York passed the Compassionate Care Act to help protect employees using marijuana to alleviate various medical conditions. The act protected and kept all certified medical marijuana users safe from disciplinary actions at the workplace for using medical cannabis products.


The Supreme Court in Massachusetts also issued an important ruling regarding this issue. The court allowed fired employees who were using medical marijuana to seek legal remedies against employers who fired them for returning a positive cannabis test. In September 2015, the Barbuto Vs. The Advantage Sales and Marketing Co. case became part of the ruling. The law states that plaintiffs can seek legal help for handicap discrimination claim, which is against the state's law.


For the Barbuto Case, the Massacehut Court states that the company should have considered an interactive process before firing the plaintiff. Due to rushed decisions, the company didn't determine if they could accommodate the plaintiff's use of marijuana.


The employee had informed the employer about his condition (Crohn's disease) and that he was using medical marijuana to alleviate it. However, the company fired Him after returning a positive marijuana test following a rapid drug screening. The company was adhering to its zero-tolerance drug policy.


The company based its action on the illegal status of marijuana federally, and it was under no legal obligation to accommodate employees. In the ruling, the courts stated that it was unfair to make the plaintiff choose between her health and job.


Additional Worthy Cases


The 2017 Rhode Island case between Darlington Fabrics and Callaghan was also a win for medical cannabis users. In the ruling, the court stated that the enforcement of the testing policy on the employee violated the state’s anti-discrimination provision on medical cannabis. The court ruled in favor of the applicant or plaintiff, as the company had dismissed the applicant unlawfully for using marijuana for medical purposes.


Christine Callaghan, the plaintiff, was searching for an internship opportunity at the company. The plaintiff had admitted to having a medical cannabis card before the company conducted the drug screening test. With using medical marijuana, Callaghan stated that she’d probably return a positive result in case of any test. Unfortunately, the Human resource director told Callaghan that they could hire her.


In addition, things appear good for Maine residents who can legally enjoy adult marijuana use during leisure time. Maine became the first state in February 2018 to protect workers using marijuana in their leisure time. The state’s Department of Labor ruled that the authorities should remove marijuana from the list of substances employer tests during drug screening sessions.


Nevertheless, the state has inserted a phase in the regulations to protect the companies and employees. The law has allowed companies to ban cannabis consumption or use at the workplace. Furthermore, the company is free to fire or discipline any employee breaking the marijuana use rules.


Despite having the right to punish employees based on marijuana use, presenting a positive marijuana test doesn’t imply or prove that the staff was at work while under the influence of marijuana. The news relieved many employees using marijuana off-duty as the drug was present in the urine test even after a few days. Thus, you can use the drug in your leisure time, especially on the weekends.


Why Can’t You Treat Cannabis Use as Alcohol Consumption?


Cannabis is slightly different from alcohol, as a blood or urine test can show it in the body for several days or weeks after using it. For instance, when you use it over the weekend, your employer can still detect it in a drug screening test the next week despite not causing any impairment.


In California, companies with a zero-tolerance drug policy can fire any employee who returns positive cannabis results after a drug screening session. The main issue is that the test doesn’t have or show the drug usage history. Thus doesn’t know whether the employee was working under the influence of drugs.


It’s usually unfair to lay off someone for medical marijuana use at home or off duty. The scenario is unfair in states that realize medicinal and adult marijuana use.


The Colorado Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that employers can still fire employees who even use marijuana for medical purposes, as federal law still regards marijuana as an illegal substance. Thus, the Colorado of duty law doesn't consider medical marijuana as a lawful substance.


In February 2018, legislators in Colorado voted to turn down a bill that wanted to protect employees using medical marijuana. The HB 20-1089 Act aimed at preventing companies and employers from laying off staff who were using marijuana off-duty for medical purposes.


Do Marijuana-friendly Companies Exist?


Reports show that Colorado is the leading nation in cannabis legalization, as it added approximately 18005 full-time jobs and more than $2.4 billion in its economy in 2016. Experts reveal that the state could be a testing ground or point for the nationwide acceptance of cannabis use in workplaces.


Most Colorado companies are high there, as they are a social network of various weed users. For instance, the Mass Root and Flowhub Company allows staff to carry edibles and marijuana-infused beverages to work.


Flowerhub co-founders stated that they care if marijuana consumption helps the employees to achieve their tasks. Despite limited studies on the subject, anecdotal evidence shows that marijuana helps individuals work faster and more reliably. To date, this company has gained sales and investor funding.


For now, most companies are becoming open-minded. A certain survey shows that a fifth of the enterprises and companies were open to allowing employees or staff with valid MMJ prescriptions to use medical marijuana products at work, as long as it doesn't affect their performance. However, many individuals are waiting for large companies to adopt this mindset.


Wrapping Up


The different legal status of marijuana changes in most states has brought unprecedented and unique challenges for employees. Some employers may have to change their approach or policies to accommodate staff and employees, especially those using cannabis to alleviate various medical conditions.


In the coming years, it'll be almost impossible for companies to enforce zero-tolerance guidelines for marijuana possession and use. Experts predict employees requesting or negotiating coverage plans for their medical prescription medication. Summarily, litigation will offer the best solution for these numerous issues and uncertainties surrounding marijuana use in workplaces.


A medical marijuana card can be the difference between retaining your job or your employer terminating your contract for returning a positive marijuana test during a drug screening. In some states, employers have started accommodating employees who use marijuana for medical purposes. HappyMD offers a seamless and cost-effective way to apply for and get your medical marijuana card online. Get your MMJ card today to avoid trouble at the workplace or with employers for using marijuana or returning a positive cannabis test result.


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