As cannabis becomes more legally accepted, medical marijuana and employment becomes a crucial topic. Cannabis use across industries has risen by 54% in five years, according to Earth.com. This finding comes from 6.3 million urine tests. In 2022, 4.3% of workers tested positive for cannabis, up from 2.8% in 2018. Food service, accommodation, and retail sectors saw the highest use.
Noticely, finding THC, marijuana’s psychoactive compound, doesn’t mean workplace impairment. It only points to past use, as THC can linger in the body for weeks. Despite this fact, marijuana still can affect employment. We explore drug testing, employer and employee rights, and the role of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The interplay between a medical marijuana card and employment will also be discussed, providing essential insights into this evolving landscape.
What is a drug test?
In the context of employment, drug testing is a procedure employers use to detect substances, including marijuana, in an employee’s system. Various methods exist for this, with urine testing being the most common due to its cost-effectiveness and ease of administration.
When testing for marijuana, the goal is to identify tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis. However, it’s important to note that the presence of THC doesn’t necessarily imply current impairment. THC can linger in the body for weeks after use, meaning a positive test could reflect past, not present, use.
The application of drug testing varies between employers. Some use pre-employment drug testing to screen potential hires, while others implement random drug testing policies for current employees. Some industries, such as transportation, safety, and security, are more likely to conduct routine drug tests due to the nature of their work.
With the legalization of medical marijuana, employers must navigate the sensitive balance between maintaining a safe, drug-free workplace and respecting the rights of employees who are authorized medical marijuana users. Understanding the intricacies of marijuana in the workplace can lead to more informed, fair policies.
Workplace cannabis policy and employee rights
While no requirement exists for most private employers to maintain a drug-free workplace policy, certain exceptions apply. These exceptions pertain to federal contractors, grantees, and positions within safety and security-sensitive industries.
Federal laws regarding drug-free workplaces can be split into two categories.
- The first, like the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, explicitly aims at controlling substance use in workplaces. These laws obligate specific employers to combat drug use in the workplace, often requiring a written policy.
- The second category safeguards American workers’ basic civil rights, offering legal protections to specific employees. They set limits on employers’ actions concerning employee drug use investigations and repercussions.
It’s vital for employers with drug-testing programs not to single out employees based on assumed drug or alcohol influence. Symptoms often associated with intoxication might be due to serious health conditions, like diabetes or mental illness. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects these individuals, making discriminatory testing potentially unlawful.
Moreover, employers should not inquire about legal prescription drug use during pre-employment or pre-promotion drug tests. Even though case law is still developing, some states have ruled such inquiries as discriminatory and in violation of the ADA as a part of the marijuana legalization process. As medical marijuana and employment laws continue to evolve, it’s crucial to stay informed and respect employees’ rights.
HIPAA-protection for medical marijuana patients – is it enough to save information about drug test results?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) safeguards your health information. This protection includes drug test results, considered as Protected Health Information (PHI).
Your HIPAA law marijuana employee rights ensure that drug test results are shared only with designated entities. These can include you, your healthcare provider, the testing laboratory, or certain government agencies.
The data can only be used for specific purposes, such as healthcare provision, legal compliance, or research. Ensuring the security and confidentiality of PHI, including drug test results, is a mandate under HIPAA.
However, there are exceptions. Employers are not covered entities under HIPAA, so they don’t strictly follow the same privacy requirements. In pre-employment screenings, employers may share drug test results if you provide authorization. Moreover, in a workplace drug testing program, your employer can share your results with others if the program aligns with the Drug-Free Workplace Act.
Remember, if you voluntarily disclose your drug test results to your employer, HIPAA protections may not apply. Always discuss concerns about the privacy of your drug test results with your employer or healthcare provider.
Medical marijuana and drug test – advice to pass
If you’re a medical marijuana user in the employment process, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the state laws and know your rights. Let’s take Louisiana as an example. There, marijuana employment laws prohibit state employers from punishing current or prospective employees based on a positive drug test for marijuana, given that the individual has been clinically diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition and is a licensed medical marijuana patient.
In addition, you should pay close attention to your employer’s policy on drug testing. Some employers might allow medical marijuana in the workplace, or allow it partially and provided you do not test positive for it during a drug test. Conversely, others might prohibit the use of medical marijuana entirely.
Even if you test positive for marijuana in a drug test, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll miss the employment opportunity. The employer might ask you to sign a waiver indicating that you won’t use medical marijuana while employed. Or you could also be asked to present medical documentation demonstrating your qualifying condition and the necessity of medical marijuana for its treatment. Your employer might be understanding and accept your treatment as a must for you.
For those wondering, “If I have a medical marijuana card, can I be denied employment?” or “How do I successfully pass a drug test as a medical marijuana user?” here are some tips:
- Cease using marijuana the moment you know a drug test is imminent. The sooner you stop, the less likely it is for you to test positive.
- Avoid consuming suspicious substances in order to falsify the result of a drug test. On the Internet, you may find tempting offerings to buy some sort of substances, which, allegedly, may help you to pass the drug test. However, it is not guaranteed, nor is safe. Do not put your health at risk.
- Stay well-hydrated. Drinking a lot of fluids aids in flushing out marijuana particles from your system.
- Maintain transparency with your employer. If you’re open about your medical marijuana use, the employer might be more accommodating.
In our opinion, a transparent attitude with the employer is the best way to establish trust and an honest relationship with HR. Get an MMJ card in Louisiana and receive all the needed support with medical records, and justification of your rights to use medical marijuana legally from our medical professionals.
What to do if you failed a drug test
Failing a drug test may not always lead to termination or impact your employment opportunities. If you’re in a situation where you’ve tested positive for cannabis, it’s crucial to understand your rights and take appropriate action:
- Step 1. Provide relatable medical records. If you have a medical marijuana card, provide the documentation to your employer or the HR department. This could change the interpretation of the test results and mitigate potential employment consequences.
- Step 2. Be aware of local laws. In certain states, laws like California marijuana employment laws or Nevada marijuana employment law offer protections to medical marijuana users. Familiarize yourself with local regulations to handle such a situation better.
- Step 3. Research marijuana employment policy. If you’re using marijuana recreationally, it’s a different scenario. Laws vary significantly, and employers may have guidelines for or against marijuana use. Therefore, understanding your company’s marijuana employment policy is key. If your marijuana usage in the workplace is not medically justified, employers may offer rehabilitation or Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to those testing positive. Opting for these resources can show your commitment to resolving the issue.
Remember that a positive marijuana test does not necessarily mean immediate termination. Employers may consider your work record, the nature of your job, and legal mandates before deciding. In summary, your reaction to a positive marijuana test should be measured, informed, and proactive. Emphasize communication and seek legal advice if necessary.
Navigating the complex terrain of medical marijuana and employment is challenging due to the varying state and federal laws. However, understanding your rights and responsibilities can help ensure you are treated fairly. Having a medical marijuana card can significantly affect your employment situation. Knowing your state-specific laws, such as California marijuana employment laws or New Jersey marijuana employment law, is crucial.
Respect the marijuana employment policy of your workplace, while also knowing your rights regarding HIPAA law and marijuana employee rights. Remember, a positive test for marijuana doesn’t necessarily spell the end of your employment. As we venture into the future of medical marijuana in the workplace, it’s clear that the landscape will continue to evolve. Stay informed, proactive, and prepared.
For reliable information and support, LAMMD is essential. LAMMD not only provides medical marijuana cards but also offers official medical support, ensuring patients can consume medical marijuana legally, safely, and without fear of discrimination. As the tides change, remember to stay informed and advocate for your rights.