Home > Uncategorized > Medical Marijuana Patients in Massachusetts Face Gray Areas in the Workplace

Medical Marijuana Patients in Massachusetts Face Gray Areas in the Workplace

Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana in November 2012 by passing the Massachusetts Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana. The first legal medical marijuana dispensaries were recently awarded licenses and should be open as early as summer 2014.

While Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law is clear in many respects — it outlines what conditions medical marijuana can be used to treat, like chronic pain or nausea — the law is unclear when it comes to employer obligations. This means that both medical marijuana patients and employers of those patients face some gray areas when it comes to adhering to our state’s medical marijuana laws.

Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Law

Can Medical Marijuana Users in Massachusetts Be Fired?

Because several of the conditions that can be treated by legal marijuana still allow employees to continue work while taking the drug, many legal medical marijuana patients will continue to be employed. The lack of clarity on employer responsibilities under the law means that medical marijuana patients could lose their jobs or miss out on employment opportunities due to their off-the-clock legal drug usage, despite anti-discrimination laws.

Medical Marijuana: State vs. Federal Laws

The fact that legal medical marijuana patients can face termination has some Massachusetts residents scratching their heads. If medical marijuana is legal in Massachusetts, shouldn’t workers be allowed to use the drug?

The discrepancy arises because medical marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, which causes confusion when it comes to employer rights. The use of illegal federally-controlled substances is not covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, meaning that medical marijuana usage is not covered even if it is legalized in a particular state. Since Massachusetts is not one of the five states whose laws provide some form of protection for medical marijuana users, patients and employers alike should take note.

What does the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Law Say About On-the-Clock Drug Usage?

While the medical marijuana law doesn’t include any specific protections for registered Massachusetts patients, it does make clear that no part of the law “requires any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any place of employment.” For employers, this means that medical marijuana users won’t be allowed to use legal drugs on-the-clock.

Massachusetts Employers: Get Help With Navigating Medical Marijuana Laws

Though court cases in states such as California, Montana, Michigan, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon have favored employers when it comes to termination of medical marijuana patients, employers should still tread lightly. Unclear medical marijuana laws like ours in Massachusetts can be tricky to navigate, and you want to stay within the confines of the law while also protecting the safety of your workplace.

When you need help establishing a drug-free workplace policy that works with Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law, ARCpoint Labs of Worcester, MA can help. We are experts when it comes to creating workplace drug testing policies and carrying out drug and alcohol testing.

To learn more about dealing with medical marijuana in your Worcester, MA workplace, call ARCpoint Labs today at (774) 314-9551!

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