Drug Test
Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Medical Cannabis Vs. The Drug-Free Workplace

Drug TestThough medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, most businesses aren’t changing to keep up with the times. Instead, they’re keeping their drug-free policies, causing an environment that makes something legal, like medicating with cannabis, grounds for getting fired in the workplace. Over the past few weeks, there have been multiple stories about patients being given ultimatums by their employers – either quit using medical marijuana, or lose your job.

One case is that of Brandon Coats, paralyzed from a car crash he was involved in at age 16, Brandon has been using medical marijuana since 2009 to relieve the painful spasms that jolt his body. When his employer – DISH network – required he take a drug test, he knew he would test positive for marijuana but thought he was okay as medical marijuana is legal in his home state of Colorado. When Brandon arrived for work the week after his drug screening, he found that his keycard would not let him into the building. He was fired for violating the company’s drug-free workplace rules, despite having a medical marijuana card and medicating legally. When asked to comment on his firing from DISH, Mr. Coats said: “There are a lot of people out there who need jobs, and can do a good job, but in order for them to live their lives, they have to have [marijuana]. A person can drink all night long, be totally hung over the next day and go to work and there’s no problem with it.”

Brandon Coats is not the only American in this situation. Last week Don DeZarn, a 48 year old employee of Princeton University, was given an ultimatum – quit using medical cannabis, or face termination. Don, a U.S. Navy veteran, is now on paid leave as the University works to figure out how to accommodate his disability and use of medical marijuana. Though medical marijuana is legal in New Jersey, under state law employers do not have to accommodate medical marijuana use in the workplace.

These two stories illustrate an important topic that merits more discussion  - how do employers reconcile the federal drug-free workplace policy with medical marijuana use in the states that allow it? Though patients are within their rights to use medical marijuana outside the workplace, when screened for drugs they can be fired on the spot for violating a company’s drug-free workplace policy. It is important to remember that the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 is a federal law, and marijuana is still listed as a Schedule I Drug by the Federal government. Companies who choose not to abide by the Drug-free workplace act risk losing federal contracts because they no longer comply with federal drug-free workplace law. This is a big challenge to legalization efforts across the country – if states continue to legalize but the federal government remains silent or refuses to reschedule  marijuana, users are still able to be terminated for using a drug that may be perfectly legal in their state.

Source: International Cannabis Business Conference

  • MrPC

    The FBI was forced to relax their drug policies when they found that many of the highly-skilled computer hackers they needed were testing positive for cannabis. Shocking! Computer hackers smoking pot – what next?

  • moldy

    Actually they (employers) do not have to test for drugs to meet a drug free work place standard. Drug testing is dictated more by the insurance companies backing workers comp. Drug test your employees and get a big discount. Someday this will be changed but I’ll probably be dead since it’ll take a fucking lifetime to fix.

  • Ted Mishler

    the newscast lady reporting about the human cage the high treasonous traitors erected to seek out more punishment in their insane war against the cannabis community in front of the denver library not long ago told me personally that employers will now HAVE to stop discriminating against the cannabis community since the war on the cannabis community is over in Colorado, so the cannabis community should then have immunity from discrimination, and the high treasonous war against them she suggested to me personally

  • Ted Mishler

    since employers get tax breaks for discriminating against the cannabis community through urinalysis, this makes them tax cheats too

    but with the government behind the high treasonous war against the cannabis community, what are we to do?

  • Ted Mishler

    people only believe what they see
    those who know not any bliss through the magical powers of the magical God given gift to human kind through the proper rotation of THC
    will always just think we are crazy
    as they look at us with puzzled looks, squinting their eyes as if their vision is hazy
    i must admit, i would never have believed it my self
    until that magical evening around 24 years ago, i sure never thought I’d ever be in the town of Denver sampling their best top shelf

    • ted mishler

      or was it 22 years ago…

  • Ted Mishler

    so how will this country after re-legalizing the notion
    that all people are truely equal, and stop all their war like comotion
    ever be able to pay back people like Mark Emery?
    locking him like an animal in a cage, seeking out his punishment due to unconstituoinal war and high treasonous activities, that is not the way to be

    what about all those who have died due to the unconstituional anti-american war against them is what i’d like to know?
    how can payment to them ever be achieved if they are dead, usa, way to go

  • Ted Mishler

    what we need are war-free workplaces
    where the cannabis community can FREELY show their faces

  • ted mishler

    Aww yes, finally, a stronger strain-
    to scratch that much longed for psychedelical itch in my brain!? lol
    I now feel well, in introspection
    wonder how to spread and share the nifty magical ease verbally in this post i rekon?
    :-)

  • Ted Mishler

    We should be proud of President Obama

    he is not apparently into the war like drama

    he said that it is important that the legalization of marijuana move forward, so then isnt it true

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHxSpJyJzX8

    that the president is with the cannabis community, no need to feel blue

    :-)