Cannabis In The U.S Workplace


As of today, 30 U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana use. That means a lot of employers are being challenged to reconcile traditional zero-tolerance drug policies with state laws permitting marijuana use and medically prescribed marijuana with disability discrimination laws.

For example, decent employers know that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits them from discriminating against a qualified individual based on their disability. And they must provide reasonable accommodations to the disabled employee so that they can perform the essential functions of their job.

Since the ADA recognizes seizure disorders, Crohn’s disease and nerve disorders as disabilities—all of which qualify for medical marijuana in most states—the intersection between cannabis and the workplace is set. And in some cases, medical marijuana is essential to the employee’s ability to perform a job.

The ADA does not cover doctor-prescribed marijuana, but some states allow doctors to give accommodation to the employee-patient as long as their use of medicinal marijuana does not burden the employer or endanger the health and safety of co-workers and the public.


  • In New York, the patient must be deemed as “having a ‘disability’ under the state’s human rights law.”
  • In Arizona, Delaware, Minnesota, and Nevada, employers cannot penalize an employee for being a medical marijuana cardholder.
  • Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, and Rhode Island have similar laws prohibiting discrimination based on a patient’s medical marijuana status.


These decisions represent a tremendous shift from past precedent that employers did not have a duty to support medical marijuana use, even under state law.

April 15, 2018

by Parker Wallace

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Parker is a cannabis enthusiast to the core who shares a keen interest in listening to what others have to say and understanding what’s important to them. Those who know Parker know that his passion for health and wellness runs deep, and his love of Canada even deeper!


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