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Can I Be Fired for Legal Marijuana Use?

Laws regarding use of marijuana are changing, but does that mean employee policies regarding marijuana use must also change?

In most cases, the answer is no, which means regardless whether or not it is legal to use marijuana in your state, you still need to be aware of your employer’s policies and understand using the drug could result in the loss of your job.

Marijuana Use is Still against Federal Law

In addition to New York State still prohibiting recreational marijuana use, it is also against federal law. And even though police aren’t enforcing federal marijuana laws as strictly as they once did, it is still a crime and could still get you into trouble with your employer.

Drug testing is also still permitted in the workplace and if your drug test shows you used marijuana and it is against your company policy to do so, your employer has the right to fire you, regardless of the law. States that have legalized marijuana still allow drug testing in the workplace and still allow people to be fired for positive result, even if marijuana use is related to a disability.

What about Use of Medical Marijuana?

New York State permits the use of medical marijuana for treating certain illnesses, but this does not mean your employer will tolerate your use of the drug. Furthermore, you won’t be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act for using it.

Some states have made it tougher to fire someone for use of medical marijuana, as long as they are not impaired on the job. Arizona, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, and Illinois all have laws prohibiting workplace discrimination against medical marijuana users, but there is still a long way to go before medical marijuana use is widely accepted.

My Employer Doesn’t Drug Test – Can I Still Lose My Job?

If it’s not company policy to conduct drug tests, can you assume you are safe to use marijuana on your own time?

Maybe, but you need to keep your use of the drug private and make sure it truly is on your own time. Marijuana use or its effects must never overlap with your work time. Obviously, if you appear to be impaired by drugs or alcohol on the job your employer has the right to take action against you.

It is also a good idea to keep your use of marijuana of yourself – meaning no social media posts about it. Employers can fire you for making a public declaration that you broke a federal law.

The bottom line? Using marijuana is just as questionable a practice as ever when it comes to the workplace. If your employer wants to take action, for the time being, they have the right to do so. Do not expect any laws regarding marijuana to protect you, as least for the foreseeable future.

If you have questions about marijuana use in the workplace or you have been disciplined in the workplace and you feel it was uncalled for, you might have a right to take legal action. To learn more or to discuss a particular issue, contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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