More than half the states in the U.S. have up to date marijuana laws. More states are coming on board, but it will be a while before there is full uniformity. This creates a problem for employers and current marijuana users. Depending on where you live, some rules can be employer enforced while others are up to the state.
There Is A Line
Some boundaries should never be crossed, even when your employer allows recreational marijuana use. Never sell, coerce or bully other coworkers into smoking marijuana. That is grounds for harassment and can get you immediately fired. This applies to all drugs, even prescription brands like aspirin. Sometimes it isn’t enforced, and that leads to an unfortunate misunderstanding between employer and employee. Just because a rule isn’t enforced, that does not mean it doesn’t apply. This is an especially harsh reality with employees in an ‘at-will employment’ state.
Medical marijuana does not fall within recreational usage categories. Employers can’t deny their workers the legal use of marijuana to deal with a medical condition. This applies across the board, even in cases where there is a zero-tolerance policy in place. The only exceptions are certain federal and transportation positions. These jobs cover different regulations since job performance can be adversely affected by the use of marijuana.
For most employment opportunities, even if an employee outright bans medical marijuana use, you can still push back. But this is of course where things get complicated, and where the law may not always be on your side.
A Confusing Mashup
Is the law on your side? Even in states where marijuana is legal, there is still a high amount of confusion with the implementation of laws. It is still considered a Schedule 1 drug, which puts it in the same category as other hard drugs. There are three things to keep in mind when walking the tightrope of marijuana use and employment.
Ask instead of assuming. Don’t be afraid to bring up marijuana use when going in for a job interview. Drug policies are discussed by default, but the extent of these policies might not answer your questions. Potential employees are afraid of bringing up topics that can endanger their future position. If you avoid the conversation, then it just opens the door for a mistake later down the road.
Be forthcoming about medical marijuana use. Hiding medical marijuana use is a fireable offense. You instantly lose protection from medical marijuana laws by lying about the use of the substance.
Even if use is allowed, it is usually off the clock, and away from the property. So, you get a free pass to use marijuana by your employer- that doesn’t mean they want you to smoke it during your break or on the property! Marijuana use is meant for off the clock activities unless your employer specifically states otherwise. And word of warning, this is one of those situations where asking about ‘on the clock’ use can prevent you from getting the job.
Don’t play the guessing game with marijuana. It is still a drug, and like all drugs, there are rules that need to be followed. Ask ahead of time about drug policies so that you’re not taken off guard for disciplinary actions.