“Can an employer deny me a new position or fire me if I fail a drug test as a medical patient?”
According to Pennsylvania Act 16, employers cannot “discharge, threaten, refuse to hire, or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against” an employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location, or privileges” solely based on their medical marijuana patient status. Therefore, one cannot legally be denied a job because of their medical cannabis use. This also extends to pre-employment or random drug screening, where an employer cannot deny or fire an individual from a position due to a failed drug screening if that employee is a patient certified by the state. Furthermore, a medical cannabis user is also not obligated to disclose such information to their employer, nor would they normally be asked to.
Regarding Medical Marijuana and Employee Drug Testing, Act 16 States the Following:
- Employers may not discriminate against patients for their status as registered patients.
- Patients who have more than 10 nanograms* per milliliter of THC in their blood in serum may not operate or be in physical control of 1) chemicals that require a federal or state permit or 2) a high-voltage electricity or other public utility.
- Employers do not have to “make any accommodation of the use of medical marijuana on the property or premises of any place of employment.”
- Employers may discipline employees for “being under the influence of medical marijuana in the workplace or for working while under the influence of medical marijuana when the employee’s conduct falls below the standard of care normally accepted for that position.”
- Employers do not have to take any action violating federal law.
- Employers may prohibit patients who are employees from performing mining or any other “employment duties at heights or in confined spaces” while under the influence of marijuana.
- Employers may prohibit patients who are employees from performing any task which the employer deems life-threatening to the employee or other employees while under the influence of marijuana. In addition, “[t]he prohibition shall not be deemed an adverse employment decision even if the prohibition results in financial harm for the patient.”
In the 2020 case of Hudnell vs. Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, a hospital security analyst was using medical cannabis to treat chronic back pain that impaired her ability to work. Upon her return from medical leave, she was given a drug test, which she failed due to her recent medical cannabis use and was immediately terminated. After filing suit against her employer, the court ruled in her favor, citing discrimination “solely on the basis of such employee’s status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana.” Therefore, so long as one is performing their job in a satisfactory manner, medical marijuana use will not be a factor of risk in losing or being denied a job position.