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Medical Marijuana in the Workplace

Medical marijuana is becoming more socially acceptable across the globe, and a major part of the movement began in Colorado. While many users have found the drug to be significantly helpful in controlling sickness and pain brought on by cancer, radiation treatment and other illnesses, some are having difficulty fitting in what used to be (and still is, in many places) an illegal narcotic with their daily lives.

Medical marijuana may be intended to manage a person’s pain so that he or she can carry on with regular activities, but some employees who are using the drug may face complications at work as a result, especially if their work requires regular or random drug testing.

Drug Testing

When you apply for a new job, part of the application and hiring process may include submitting to a drug test, depending on what career or workplace you are entering. If you are injured on the job, your employer may ask you to submit to a drug test at that point as well, or you may volunteer to take one as part of your post-accident evaluation. This is especially true for truck drivers and others whose jobs involve heavy machinery and intense amounts of focus and concentration.

If an employee tests positive for drug use because he or she is using medically-prescribed marijuana, it may not be clear what happens next or what rights the company has to fire or retain that employee.

Many employees make the assumption that because marijuana is legal when used for medical purposes, and because of Colorado’s recent changes to the law regarding recreational use, they are safe if they test positive on a drug test. However, the language of the law makes it clear that this may not always be the case.

In Amendment 64, Colorado lawmakers legalized marijuana usage. This amendment is typically where people go when they face unemployment due to medical marijuana usage. But in the same amendment, it states that employers may terminate an employee who is using marijuana.

“Nothing in this section is intended to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale, or growing of marijuana in the workplace, or to affect the ability of employers to have policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees,” the amendment states.

Additionally, federal laws allow employers to terminate an employee for using marijuana at work or testing positive on a drug test. Because drug use can cause a person to make mistakes or have an accident, employers need to be able to guard themselves against potential risk and liability.

There are even some federal employers who require employees to remain drug-free, including the Department of Transportation and any workplaces that have a federal contract.

It’s important to know what you can and can’t do when you have suffered an injury and a doctor prescribes you with medical marijuana. While it is okay for you to take it, it may not be in line with your employer’s policies and using it could get you fired.

At Levine Law, we represent any employee who has been injured at work or on the job. For more information regarding Colorado’s laws and marijuana policies, contact a Denver workers’ compensation lawyer at Levine Law today.

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