With marijuana becoming decriminalized in more and more places, the nature of drug testing is beginning to change. With marijuana being recreational and prescribed by doctors, it no longer makes sense to penalize or disqualify employees if it shows up on a drug test. 

Still, there are stigmas surrounding marijuana use, and employers should be aware of the changing landscape to ensure they are being fair to their applicants and following the changing guidelines.

That conversation is lengthy, with lots of differing opinions, so the focus of this article is going to focus on a topic that is a little more black and white: medically prescribed marijuana.

Should employers still be testing for it? What are the rights of the applicant or the employee if cannabis is detected? To learn more about drug testing, visit the Soteria Screening site!

What Laws Still Exist About Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana refers to derivative forms of the Cannabis sativa plant. It treats conditions like Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, complications from HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, and more. 

Medical marijuana often comes in various forms, such as pills, oils, powders, etc. 

So what does this matter if marijuana is legal in the state you operate in?

U.S. federal law prohibits using the whole plant Cannabis sativa or its derivatives for any reason. This includes medicinal purposes. CBD, which is most commonly used in medicines and even in some cosmetics and food products, comes from a hemp plant that produces less than 0.03% THC. For that reason, CBD is legal under federal law.

Even if the medical use of cannabis is legal in a particular state, federal law regarding marijuana supersedes state laws. In short, the individual state legislation does not cancel out the federal laws about cannabis use. 

Do Employers Need to Be Worried About Medical Marijuana Effects?

Although prescribed for medicinal use, marijuana, just like many other prescription medicines, can have some side effects. 

For example, medical cannabis can cause increased heart rates, dizziness, slower reaction times, impaired concentration and memory, hallucinations, and even react negatively to other medicines. 

Because of this, it’s easy to see why some employers may be wary of letting someone using medical-grade cannabis work on their job site, handling customers or equipment.

On top of that, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug under federal law, categorizing it with substances like cocaine and heroin.

However, it’s important to note that there can be a marked difference between adult-leisure marijuana use and medical marijuana use. 

There are types of medical marijuana that are formulated to provide symptom relief without the intoxicating, mood-altering effects people see with recreational marijuana use. 

As the landscape changes, it might be wise for employers to consider medical marijuana less of a drug and more of a controlled substance with similar side effects to other prescription medications. 

What are the Rights of Someone Holding a Medical Marijuana Card Holder or User?

Just like any other medicine, medical-grade cannabis is prescribed to users by their healthcare providers because, in some way or another, it will help them with a medical condition. In some states, like Missouri, a patient must have a specific qualifying medical condition to receive a medical marijuana card. 

Some employers discipline employees for off-the-clock drug use. Others only discipline employees for failing drug tests when it’s clear their morale, quality of work, or productivity is affected by their drug use. It’s very similar to how many businesses handle any number of narcotics used in the workplace.

Make an effort to know your state’s specific rules regarding marijuana use in the workplace. What are your rights and duties as a business owner regarding drug testing? If you have a drug-free workplace, specify where medically-prescribed marijuana falls within that policy. Be clear and upfront. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Get in contact with other business owners, research, and be thoughtful as you proceed and as laws change. 

Protecting your investments and business as an employer is incredibly important, especially during recruitment and hiring. Protect yourself by conducting background checks, application drug tests, or recurring employee drug tests to ensure your company is safe.

Soteria Drug Screening offers comprehensive, secure, and efficient drug testing, background checking, and other services. To learn more, visit https://soteriascreening.com

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