Medical Cannabis in the Work Place

Legalization of medical marijuana is trending. More than half of U.S. states have made the herb available for medical use. However, only people with medically diagnosed conditions that can be treated with THC can apply for Medical Marijuana Cards (MMC). Marijuana patients are prescribed a dosage just like they would any other medicine. Therefore, should MMC holders be allowed to take their prescribed dose of cannabis in the work place?

In every jurisdiction where MMC are available the statutes only allow patients to medicate within “the privacy of their homes”. This means that working class patients are prohibited from medicating at their place of work. The result is that patients must suffer through great pain or discomfort caused by conditions like glaucoma, muscular dystrophy or inflammatory bowel disease (just to name a few) for the entire duration of their work shift. Whatever alleviation can be achieved through medical use is irrelevant so long as the patient is at work.

Many employers oppose their employees medicating on the clock because of the well known cognitive and physically impairing effects of THC. For example, employees whom operate machinery such as a forklift are presumed to be impaired while under the influence of marijuana. This scenario begs the question of whether an employer should be obligated to provide reasonable accommodations at work for employees whom are prescribed medical cannabis?

It is federal law that the disabled be provided reasonable accommodations so that their medical disability does not affect their employment. There is a strong case to be made that MMC holders are disabled by their conditions without the relief of medicine. Even if patients cannot perform their traditional job functions while medicated their employers should be obligated to accommodate the patient with a task that can be effectively managed while medicated. Reasonable accommodations provide that employees do not have to perform at work while in pain or discomfort and the employer can make use its personnel in the most effective ways.

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