Medical Marijuana Employment Rights
The Jake Honig Compassionate Use Act decriminalizes the use of medical marijuana in New Jersey. But can your employer fire you if you use marijuana prescribed pursuant to the Act?
The Compassionate Use Act prohibits employers from taking any adverse employment action against an employee solely based on his or her status as a registered medical marijuana user. For example, in general an employer cannot fire, demote, suspend, or pass over for promotion an employee solely on that basis.
The Act also requires that if an employee or job applicant tests positive for cannabis, then the employer has to offer him an opportunity to explain the positive test result, such as by indicating that he is a registered marijuana user. As a result, an employee has the right to wait until after a positive test result before disclosing that he uses medical marijuana.Exceptions and Limitations
There are some important exceptions to the prohibition against taking adverse employment actions against registered medical marijuana user. For instance, employers can discipline or fire employees because they possess or used marijuana during work hours, or at the workplace outside of work hours.
Likewise, employers do not have to do anything that would violate federal law, cause them to lose a licensing under federal law, or lose a federal contract or federal funding.
In addition, since the Compassionate Use Act only prohibits employers from taking adverse actions “solely” based on prescribed medical marijuana use, it appears to permit employers to take such actions based on legitimate safety concerns. For example, a company can refuse to allow an employee to drive a motor vehicle, operate heavy machinery, or use a fire arm while impaired by any medication, including marijuana.
However, employers should not act based on stereotypes or assumptions about the impact of marijuana on employees. They should not assume an employee is impaired simply because he is a registered marijuana user, or because he used marijuana at some point before reporting to work. Rather, any such safety concerns should be based on medical facts.Prohibition Against Disability Discrimination
New Jersey law also prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because they are disabled. This includes prohibiting disability discrimination based on a medical condition for which an employee is using medical marijuana as part of the treatment. In fact, employers have an affirmative obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to permit disabled employees to perform their jobs.Contact Us
If you believe your employment rights have been violated, and would like to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, please either contact us online or call our office at (973) 744-4000.Additional Information
We have information about workplace drug testing available on our workplace privacy page.
To learn more about your rights under the Compassionate Use Act, we recommend you read one of the following articles: