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By: Andrew G. Scott, Esquire and Toni Norris, Law Clerk
In light of recent legislation passed in Maryland, employers now face the question of whether or not to amend their existing drug enforcement policies to reflect medical marijuana users in the workplace. Although under Maryland law individuals may be issued written certifications for medical marijuana, it is important for employers to note that under the federal Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. Section 801, et seq., marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical use.
Employers, therefore, do not have to accommodate on-duty use or impairment, even by medical marijuana users that are registered with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. In fact, Maryland law does not prevent employers from testing for marijuana use, and it does not protect employees who test positive for any reason. For now, an employer can decide whether or not to accommodate an employee who needs cannabis for medical purposes. Even so, an employer is not required to provide an employee’s specific marijuana-related accommodation request.
Although current Maryland law is silent on the impact that medical marijuana may have in the work place, there are steps employers can take to a facilitate a smooth transition:
- Create acknowledgement forms that are customized to the state law, including requiring employees to acknowledge that their medical marijuana use is legitimate and won’t be used onsite or in ways that impair their work.
- Review existing policies and clarify any ambiguous language. Inform employees of new laws, while cautioning them that they still cannot be under the influence or in possession of marijuana at work.
- Review the safety-sensitive nature of your workplace and clientele, and determine what type of disciplinary response is appropriate in the event of an employee testing positive for the use of marijuana.
Andrew Scott is a Member of PK Law and part of the firm’s Labor and Employment Group. He represents private sector employers and public schools before federal and state courts, federal and state civil rights agencies, and the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings on a variety of matters, including employment discrimination litigation, collective bargaining, teacher and student discipline, construction and procurement, and wage and hour claims. Mr. Scott also advises clients on the design and implementation of employment agreements, employee handbooks, policies and procedures. Mr. Scott can be reached at 410-339-6744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toni Norris s a law clerk at PK Law. She is currently completing her third year of law school at the University of Baltimore School of Law and has accepted a position as an associate at the firm upon graduation.