Legal Recreational Marijuana Use and Employment Issues

For a long time, people have been wondering how medical marijuana use will affect their employment and what happens if they get a drug test. That is a complicated issue, and it depends a lot on your employer.  With marijuana being legal for recreational use as Proposition 64 was voted into law at the last election, many more are concerned if they can lose their jobs for using marijuana for recreation.

cannabis Lawyer RiversideSome argue that it should be okay as long as you are not under the influence of marijuana while on the job. This is how things work with alcohol.  After all, anyone who is 21 or older can legally drink alcohol, but cannot come to work drunk.  It is also true that a worker can take his or her prescription Xanax and be at work so long as that is not interfering with their job, and they are not operating heavy machinery. On the other hand, marijuana is still illegal pursuant to federal law, and employers can have a drug free workplace policy and enforce that policy. According to a recent news article from the Sacramento Bee discussing whether a worker can be fired for using recreational marijuana, it will once again depend on where you work and who your employer is.

Under federal law, and even state law, an employer can still test you prior to employment and can also test you while you are already on the job.  If you test positive for marijuana even though it is legal under state law to possess and use, the employer can refuse to hire you or terminate you.  If you are working in the transportation industry, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will require all workers to be drug free and will require pre-employment drug tests and random drug tests.  If you test positive, you can certainly be terminated.

As our Orange County cannabis attorneys can explain, certain jobs that are federally regulated, such as being an air traffic controller or a school bus driver, simply will not allow anyone who has a regulated position to use any illegal drugs.  This includes marijuana, as it is still listed as a Schedule One controlled substance despite that being a ridiculous classification.

Aside from federally regulated jobs in transportation and other industries, there was much contention surrounding workplace drug testing for marijuana. Prior to recreational use of marijuana being legalized in Proposition 64, it was tried in another Proposition back in 2010.  That effort went down in defeat, as a majority of voters did not support it.  This was partially because of language in the ballot measure that said employers could not fire employees for using marijuana, as it was legal under state law.  This time, advocates and drafters didn’t want to be defeated for the same reason, so they did not include that language.  Instead, they included language that gave employers much more flexibility in terms of what they would do about marijuana in the workplace.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
Can I get fired for using legal recreational marijuana? An FAQ for California workers, May 27, 2017, By Peter Hecht, Sacramento Bee

More Blog Entries:
Marijuana Sobriety Tests Still Elusive, Feb. 28, 2017, Marijuana Attorney Blog