Call it what you want … Aunt Mary, skunk, boom, MJ, Mary Jane, reefer, weed. But whatever you call it, 14 U.S. States now allow use of marijuana for medical reasons.
There’s very little court action to guide employers on this subject … even less is written about how this State law affects Federal employees in those states. So, if you work in AK, CA, CO, HI, ME, MI, MT, NV, NJ, NM, OR, RI, VT, or WA, how does your state’s Medical Marijuana law effect your relationship with your Agency? Or does it?
This is one of the latest issues facing Fed employers, unions, and employees. Most medical marijuana laws limit coverage to people who do not work in “Safety Sensitive” positions such as truck drivers, pilots, railroad engineers, doctors and nurses. But what if you don’t work in one of those positions? How will use of medical marijuana effect your Federal employment relationship if you use this treatment for pain or to limit the negative effects of cancer treatment drugs, glaucoma, or a similarly appropriate medical condition?
Let’s say you use marijuana outside the workplace on Friday and on Monday you test positive for drugs when your Agency does a random drug screen. The federal Controlled Substances Act does not recognize the medical use of marijuana but your State law does. The Feds have successfully argued their right to limit one’s consumption of locally grown marijuana for medical purposes because even personal cultivation and consumption affects the interstate market of marijuana, and as a result, the Feds are allowed to regulate—and prohibit—such consumption. Even still, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction against the Federal government and the dissenting opinon from three Supreme Court justices agreed that it was appropriate to prevent the federal government from “interfering” because one’s personal use of medical marijuana is not considered “interstate commerce” and therefore “the <Federal> Controlled Substances Act is an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority…” in this instance.
So now what? Is it right to make employees choose between their jobs and their health & well-being? This is a cutting edge question, whether you work in a covered State or in a State that doesn’t yet recognize medical use of marijuana. How do you weigh in on the subject?