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Can You Be Drug Tested If You Have a Medical Marijuana Card?

After several states in the US have passed the bill on legalizing marijuana for medical purpose, about 3.5 million have registered for the state-issued medical marijuana card.

Even though some states have legalized marijuana for medical use, it's still regarded as a Scheduled I controlled substance under the Federal Controlled substance Acts. Meaning, marijuana cannot be legally prescribed in every state of the country.

Many people worry about getting discriminated against if their employers discovered they use marijuana for medical purposes. However, they may have a compelling reason to be troubled since there are laws to protect their medical history.

Employment discrimination rules vary from state to state. For instance, some states have standing rules that protect patients in their workplace. The regulations stand against employers from discriminating against employees with medical marijuana cards.

However, most states have no law protecting against discrimination for patients with medical marijuana cards.

medical marijuana card

What Is a Medical Marijuana Card?

Medical Marijuana Card also known as MMID is a card issued by the state that enables an individual to use marijuana for medical use after obtaining a doctor's recommendation to get, possess, or cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes.

How to Obtain a Medical Marijuana Card?

The card is usually issued by states that recognized or legalized marijuana for medical conditions listed for the state. The MMID is obtainable in 33 states in the United States, and this includes ten states with legalized marijuana use. The processing of a medical marijuana card varies within states, and each state has distinct requirements, laws, and policies. But in all states the patient must be reviewed and evaluated for marijuana need by the doctor.

In states that issue medical marijuana cards, the card is only valid for 12 months. After this expired period, the card needs renewal. Renewing a marijuana card requires a reevaluation of the individual by a doctor and a payment. Though, the renewal fee is lesser than the initial registration.

Federal and State Drug Testing Laws

As stated earlier, cannabis use is illegal under federal law. In this regard, industries regulated by the federal government randomly screen their employees for drugs as part of a routine hiring process.

Some companies that are not regulated by the Federal government may not require routine drug testing for employees. However, some state and local authorities have laws that enforce drug testing.

Employers have the legal right to drug test employees or applicants to maintain a drug-free workplace as long as it is included in the company's drug-testing policies. These drug testing policies may be included in the job description or stated in some parts of the written job agreement paperwork.

Drug Testing of the Medical Marijuana Patients

Drug testing for marijuana, however is a long-lasting debate topic across the country. Especially in states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes. Should marijuana be tested even with a medical marijuana card? This and many more related questions have been asked with no conclusion.

Addressing the topic, one can be drug tested even with a medical marijuana card. This is, however, based on the law in the state at that time. Tolerance and acceptance for marijuana for medicinal uses vary from state to state.

Also, employee protection laws vary by state. Some states allow employers to kick against medical marijuana for safety. However, in some states, employers are restricted from taking any adverse actions on employees.

Someone with a medical marijuana card may get fired from his workplace because of a positive drug test and this means that such person is discriminated. The difficulty in testing for the actual level of the active ingredient in marijuana also makes it difficult to ascertain if a user was high or not at the moment of testing.

Some employers are under the federal regulations to routinely test for drugs in jobs that require high safety measures like pilots or truck drivers. In such positions, there no need in a legitimate reason to fire an individual who fails a drug test even if he or she has a medical marijuana card. However, in situations where the employer doesn't adhere to federal law, there must be a legitimate reason to fire an employee who had failed a drug test.

What about the Discrimination?

Though the law for protection against the workplace discrimination for the use of medical marijuana is gradually gaining ground in some states. How then can we deal with this, especially in states where cannabis isn't legalized?

States like Nevada and New York have considered persons who use cannabis for medical purposes. They are referred to as being legally disabled. There are laws under this provision to protect them from indiscriminate firing from the workplace by their employers.

The law has, however, mandated employers to reasonably accommodate medical marijuana users who have a valid medical marijuana card.

Also, in Nevada, employers as from 2020 cannot refuse to hire applicants who had failed a drug test. This makes Nevada the first to take this bold step against discrimination against medical marijuana users.

In states where medical marijuana users are legally disabled, an employer may not be able to sack an employee after a failed drug test.  This applies if he performs his responsibilities dutifully. However, an employee can be sacked if the use of marijuana has affected his duties and pose a threat to him or his colleagues at work.

Final Thoughts

If you are a medical marijuana cardholder, it is expedient that you research about your state, its laws on marijuana use and employer's drug testing policies. You shouldn't assume that you are immune to any repercussions that may face following a drug test just because you have a legitimate right to use marijuana.

In conclusion, with the growing number of medical marijuana users, the states need to develop new policies to support those who use cannabis for health purposes and to prevent discrimination at the workplaces.