Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Medical Marijuana Discrimination


Medical Marijuana Discrimination Lawyer

Dedicated Employment and Labor Lawyers Protecting the Rights of Medical Cannabis Users at Work

Medical Marijuana Discrimination Lawyer

Medical marijuana discrimination occurs when an employer makes negative employment decisions against an employee or job applicant because they legally use medical cannabis off the clock. While federal law still lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 illegal drug, many states do not. Furthermore, some of those states provide employees the right to work when using medical marijuana outside of work.

Some medical marijuana laws protect employment rights in several states across the country. Employees have the right to use medical marijuana outside of company time and off company property. They have the right to stay employed as long as they use marijuana outside of the workplace. However, they cannot be intoxicated on the job. Yet, state laws may prohibit employers from conducting drug screenings for marijuana unless they meet certain criteria.

While you may not have the federal government’s backing, your state may offer you protections when using medical marijuana. Know your rights! Allow the discrimination lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group to help you fight for them.

What Is Discrimination Based on Medical Marijuana Use?

Thirty-three states have laws allowing the legal use of medical marijuana. However, only nineteen states maintain laws protecting employees and their right to work due to medical cannabis use.

Discrimination occurs when an employer, CEO, manager, supervisor, coworker, client, customer, or nonemployee makes negative employment decisions based on medicinal marijuana use. These actions are known as adverse employment actions. They may include:

  • Wrongful Termination
  • Demotion
  • Retaliation
  • Reduction in Shifts
  • Reduction in Pay
  • Derogatory Jokes
  • Negative and Offensive Comments
  • Refusal of Projects
  • Denial of Promotions

Who Uses Medical Marijuana?

People living in one of the 33 states allowing medical marijuana use can obtain a medical marijuana card from their physician. However, they must have one or more of the allowed medical needs to qualify for use.

Individuals must go through a proper medical examination. They must receive a diagnosis in which medical marijuana can help.

Some of these ailments may include:

  • Cancer
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic Pain
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Migraines
  • Glaucoma
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • ALS

What States Protect Employee Rights Due to Medical Marijuana Use?

Nineteen states maintain laws protecting employees from any adverse employment actions relating to the specific legal use of medical marijuana.

The nineteen states include:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia

What Laws Protect Employees in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey from Discrimination Based on Medical Marijuana Use?

Once again, no federal laws protect people from adverse employment actions regarding medical marijuana. However, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York are three of the nineteen states with employment protection laws.

  1. The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act prohibits employers from taking any adverse actions against employees who use medical marijuana. Adverse Actions include firing an employee or rescinding an employment offer because an employment drug test provided positive marijuana use results.
  2. The New Jersey Jake Honig Compassionate Use Cannabis Act prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against employees or job applicants using medicinal marijuana. The law also allows employees and job applicants to present medical evidence of cannabis use if a drug test returns a positive result for marijuana use.

As of February 22, 2021, New Jersey released laws regarding the legal recreational use of marijuana. Under the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (CREAMMA), employers cannot take any negative action against an employee or job applicant that uses cannabis after working hours. However, these employers maintain the right to enforce a drug-free workplace for anyone attempting to use marijuana while on company property and working hours.

Neither New Jersey law prohibits marijuana drug screenings as part of the employment. However, the testing must be done through a scientific method, such as blood, urine, or saliva. Drug screening protocols must also be uniform for all the employees and job applicants in a position within a company. Finally, they must also include a physical evaluation by a trained inspector to see if the employee is impaired during working hours.

3. The New York Compassionate Care Act also prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against employees or job applicants using medical marijuana legally. New York City’s employment laws also prohibit employers from conducting drug testing for marijuana unless in specific fields, such as:

  • Construction
  • Teaching
  • Law Enforcement
  • Medical supervision, such as a nursing home or adult daycare
  • Positions that could risk public health and safety of employees or the public.

What Must Employers Do to Accommodate Medical Marijuana Users at Work?

The state laws are clear. Employers cannot use medical marijuana use and negative marijuana drug screening results to make any negative employment decisions. However, the laws also clearly state that employers do not need to accommodate medical cannabis users.

Employers do not need to provide smoke breaks. They do not need to allow employees to smoke on the job. Some laws allow employers to fire employees who are clearly impaired during working hours. These laws affect all marijuana users, even those with medical marijuana cards.

Does the Americans with Disabilities Act Provide Protection to Employees Using Medicinal Marijuana at Work?

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against employees or job applicants based on disabilities. The ADAAA is a federal law. The federal government does not condone the use of medical cannabis. Therefore, it does not protect an employee’s rights to use it at work.

However, it does protect employees from disclosing why they use it. An employer cannot insist a person with a medical marijuana card disclose why they need the card. If the law protects employees from negative actions in their state, the employer only needs to know they have a legal right to use medicinal marijuana. They do not have the right to know how they obtained the card or why they have it.

The ADAAA does not prohibit discrimination based on medical marijuana use. However, state disability laws wherein medical marijuana is legal may protect an employee’s rights against employment discrimination.

The best way to determine your rights regarding medical marijuana discrimination in your state is to consult a qualified discrimination lawyer. Your discrimination lawyer can help you understand your rights and the best laws to help your claim.

What is the Statute of Limitation to File a Claim for Discrimination Based on Medical Marijuana?

In New Jersey, employees can file a suit in violation of the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act. The lawsuit falls under the disability clause in the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJ LAD). The statute of limitations to file a claim with the NJ LAD is two years.

Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act classifies those using medical marijuana as people with a serious medical condition. Under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), people with a serious medical condition are classified as disabled employees. Therefore, anyone experiencing discrimination based on medical marijuana use can file a claim for disability discrimination under the PHRA. You must file claims within 180 days of the event.

New York’s medical marijuana law classifies people using medical marijuana as a person with a disability. Therefore, medical marijuana cardholders are disabled employees under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL). The NYSHRL prohibits employers from discriminating against any employee or job applicant based on a disability. The time limit to file a claim under the NYSHRL is three years.

How Can a Qualified Employment Discrimination Lawyer Help Your Medical Marijuana Discrimination Claim?

Marijuana laws are changing rapidly throughout the country. New laws regarding the use of cannabis and medical cannabis are constantly enacted. Since the industry is ever-changing, you need an advocate who knows the laws and their constant changes to help you know your rights and fight for them.

Working with an experienced attorney will aid in your fight for your rights. Your attorney can help you draft your complaint under your appropriate state laws. They can help you gather the evidence to help prove your claim under the law.

Furthermore, your attorney can help you negotiate towards a fair settlement as quickly and effectively as possible. The goal is to help you receive relief for your ordeal without dragging the case out for years. However, if your employer refuses to settle, you need an attorney willing and able to stand by your side and fight with you in court.

Let Our Dedicated Disability Discrimination Lawyers Help with Your Claim Today!

Depending on where you live, the laws may protect your right to work and use medicinal marijuana. Do not let your employer deny you that right.

The dedicated disability discrimination attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group can help you understand your rights and fight for them.

Do You Have Questions About Your Right to Work Even When Using Medical Marijuana? Please Ask Us Your Questions at 800.807.2209 or email

Share this Content:
Call us today - It's Free