MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN THE WORKPLACE By: Michelle Patrick, Esq.

In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana may be an option for those with a “serious medical condition.” The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act contains a list of serious medical conditions including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and PTSD. Employees certified to use medical marijuana cannot be discriminated against “solely on the basis of such employee’s status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana” in the hiring process or during their employment. The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, Section 2103(b)(1).

Does this mean that an employee who is certified to use medical marijuana can do so freely, without any repercussions at work or do any job? The answer is a resounding no. Section 2103(b)(2) makes it clear that employers can take disciplinary action against employees under the influence of marijuana if the employee’s actions fall below the standard of care for that position. Employers are also not required to make any accommodations for employees to use, or possess, marijuana on their premises. Finally, if an employer believes that a job is life-threatening or could pose a public safety risk then they can prevent an employee from doing that job. For example, an employer can prevent a forklift driver from operating a forklift while under the influence of marijuana.

In addition, marijuana use of any kind remains illegal under federal law which can be challenging for both employees and employers. As a result certain industries, in particular the transportation industry and those utilizing federal contractors, generally maintain drug-free workplace policies in spite of state laws.