Can You Get Fired for Medical Marijuana in Maryland?
If you have a Maryland medical marijuana card, you can access cannabis without the threat of arrest—but that doesn’t mean you can’t get fired for using medical marijuana. If your employer imposes a workplace drug policy, you need to understand the potential ramifications of maintaining medical marijuana treatment.
You Can Get Fired for Using Medical Marijuana in Maryland
The Maryland medical cannabis laws are clear on this matter. Under Maryland law, an employer can impose disciplinary action on employees who test positive for cannabis in violation of a company policy. According to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, “Maryland law does not prevent an employer from testing for use of cannabis (for any reason) or taking action against an employee who tests positive for use of cannabis (for any reason).”
Furthermore, the MMCC notes that civil and criminal penalties may be imposed against medical marijuana users when their use “would constitute negligence or professional malpractice.” In other words, while the state does protect users from criminal prosecution in a general sense, it also acknowledges that workplace marijuana use may inhibit job performance or even public safety. So regardless of your patient status, you are expected to abide by your company’s drug policies.
Can You Get Fired for Simply Having a Medical Marijuana Card in Maryland?
Simply possessing a medical marijuana card should not put your job at risk. Your patient information is private and confidential, protected by HIPAA rules. Your employer would have no way of knowing your patient status unless you volunteered that information.
Even if your employer does learn of your patient status, it’s unlikely that they could impose disciplinary action as a result. The most they could do is subject you to a drug test that might yield a positive result. If you do test positive in violation of a company policy, you may face disciplinary action.
Do Medical Marijuana Patients Have Any Recourse if Fired in Maryland?
If you’re disciplined or fired for using medical marijuana in Maryland, you may not have much recourse from a legal standpoint. There have been cases in which fired patients took their employers to court citing an Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) violation. The argument is that patients are protected under the ADA because their physician has indicated a need for medical cannabis. As a result, their cannabis use represents a reasonable accommodation under the terms of the ADA.
Speak to a legal representative if you have any questions about your options in this matter, but know that these types of lawsuits have only been successful in a few cases. Because cannabis is still a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance under federal law, and because federal law supersedes state law, courts often favor the employer in these cases.
Protecting Yourself as a Maryland Medical Marijuana Patient in the Workplace
If you are or are thinking of becoming a medical marijuana patient in Maryland, start by researching your workplace drug policies. Find out if there’s a possibility of drug testing, and learn what the possible penalties are.
If your desire to use medical marijuana conflicts with your workplace drug policies, speak with your employer about your situation. If you don’t want to go to your supervisor directly (which is completely understandable), speak to an HR representative about your options and the potential consequences.
If you determine that there’s no way for you to safely use medical marijuana without putting your job in jeopardy, you may have to decide whether to forgo your cannabis treatment or start looking for more flexible job opportunities. As cannabis use continues to become more socially acceptable nationwide, a lot more employers are maintaining a permissive attitude about their employees’ cannabis use—so long as you use it on your time and not at the workplace.
If you have additional questions about your rights and responsibilities as a Maryland medical marijuana cardholder, speak to an attorney who specializes in Maryland employment law.