Medical Marijuana in the Workplace: What Are Your Rights in Pennsylvania?
And Can Your Employer Fire You for Using It?
Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in 2016. However, while the trends nationwide have been pointing toward increased legalization, Pennsylvania’s rules have stayed fairly strict since then.
Medical marijuana is only allowed in Pennsylvania for those with debilitating medical conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.
Even so, as many as half a million patients and caregivers have registered with the state for permission to purchase medical marijuana. And many of these people face complexities when it comes to using marijuana legally in everyday life, as marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.
When at work, your right to use marijuana for medical reasons can clash with your employer’s desire to keep the workplace “drug-free.” Here’s a look at some commonly-asked questions we get from clients facing these issues in the workplace.
Can My Employer Fire Me for Using Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania?
According to the Medical Marijuana Act in Pennsylvania, employers can’t fire you, refuse to hire you, or retaliate or discriminate against you just because you’re a medical marijuana user.
In practice, that means it’s also generally unlawful for an employer to fire you if you fail a drug test for marijuana—as long as you’re a registered, card-holding medical marijuana user.
Do I Need To Tell My Employer I Use Marijuana for Medical Reasons?
You are not required to disclose your medical marijuana use to your employer.
That said, it’s not illegal for your employer to ask about it. In general, it’s not advisable to lie, but you also don’t have to make an effort to disclose it if you don’t want to, especially if you only use marijuana at home and there’s no reason it will impact your work.
Can I Use Marijuana at Work if I Have a Medical Marijuana Card?
In Pennsylvania, this is at the employer’s discretion. State law does not require employers to accommodate use of medical marijuana in the workplace.
It is not unlawful for employers to discipline employees for using medical marijuana on-site, especially if they judge that you appear intoxicated or that it’s having an impact on your job performance.
If this sounds to you like it contradicts ADA law—which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities—that’s because, arguably, it does.
Under most circumstances, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities in the workplace, including on the worksite itself. However, since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, this does not apply to medical marijuana use.
Are There Any Jobs Where Medical Marijuana Use Is Prohibited Even Outside of Work?
Not exactly. What’s prohibited is showing up to work with levels of THC in your system above a certain threshold.
Workers in Pennsylvania are prohibited from performing certain job functions if they have 10 nanograms or more of THC in their system—even if they only use marijuana at home. These job functions include:
- Working with high-voltage electricity
- Working with certain chemicals
- Working at a public utility
- Working in confined spaces or at heights
- Work that could be categorized as life-threatening or a public health or safety risk
This means that, for some professions, your employer could lawfully discipline you for using medical marijuana in your personal time if you show up to work with too much THC in your system.
What Should I Do if I Was Fired for Using Medical Marijuana?
If you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace for using medical marijuana—including being fired, refused a job, or retaliated against in other ways—your employer may have acted unlawfully.
Medical marijuana use in the workplace can be a complicated legal maze. We’ve helped many clients navigate that maze and get the compensation they deserve, and we can help you, too.
Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, confidential consultation today.
The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.