Do you own a company or small business and have employees? Did you know that it is legal for your employees to use medical marijuana under the appropriate circumstances? The fact is that Medical Marijuana is officially legal in Pennsylvania. Employers must know the law and relevant considerations to make when it comes to their employees' use of medical marijuana to avoid getting “burned.”
Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Act, 35 Pa. C.S. § 10231.101 et. seq. permits individuals with certain serious medical conditions to apply for a medical marijuana card with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. It is well established that medical marijuana is permitted in Pennsylvania. If you are an employer, the Act likely raises several questions in the context of your business, such as: can employees use medical marijuana at work? Can employees use medical marijuana prior to going to work? Can I discipline an employee for having a medical marijuana card?
First, the Medical Marijuana Act does not require employers to permit the use of medical marijuana in the workplace. That being said, there is nothing in the Act that prohibits employers from adopting policies that permit medical marijuana use at work in limited circumstances. Employers (e.g. small businesses) should consider adopting a policy that expressly prohibits the use of medical marijuana at work, or, that sets guidelines for use during work hours to eliminate confusion.
Second, employees are not permitted to report to work under the influence of medical marijuana. An employer can discipline an employee for working while under the influence of medical marijuana, including when the employee's conduct falls below the standard of care normally accepted for the position.
Third, employers cannot fire current employees solely on the basis that the employee has a medical marijuana card. The Medical Marijuana Act specifically prohibits discrimination based on the fact that the employee has a medical marijuana card. Similarly, employers cannot refuse to hire candidates solely because he/she has a medical marijuana card.
These are just a few of the issues that may arise in the employment setting that involves the Medical Marijuana Act. The courts have not had an opportunity to offer interpretation and guidance of these provisions since the Medical Marijuana Act is a new law. This means that the issues addressed above have not been litigated to a substantial degree, and guidance from legal counsel is very important. If you are a business owner and are dealing with issues related to Medical Marijuana use in the workplace, call our office today to speak with an attorney to better understand your rights and options.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.