Medical Marijuana in the Workplace - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Employers Grapple With Medical Marijuana in the Workplace

Posted: Feb 28, 2018 5:38 PM Updated:

SALISBURY, Md.– Marijuana is now legal for use if you have a medical certification in Maryland. And while the state says green means go, will your employer?

Believe it or not, that’s a question Maryland doesn’t yet have an answer to. Attorney Robin Cockey, who specializes in employment law at Cockey, Brennan & Maloney, P.C. in Salisbury, says the legislation put in place does not address employer/employee rights.

“Maryland says you can obtain medical marijuana legally,” Cockey says. “But it doesn’t explicitly offer any protections in the workplace.”

For now, Cockey says he is advising companies to treat medical marijuana as they would other prescription drugs, specifically painkillers.

“A lot of people think the same kind of analysis will be applied with medical marijuana. That it will be treated like other prescription drugs and employers would have to accommodate medical marijuana,” he says. “Other people think that the fact the legislature didn't expressly address this issue means that they didn't intend to afford this kind of protection to workers."

The legal rights, he says, are yet to be set by any precedent in Maryland because there hasn’t been any cases regarding employee discrimination when it comes to medical marijuana.

There are jobs, however, that likely will not allow its employees to use medical marijuana. For example, jobs with the department of transportation or jobs that require driving or operating heavy machinery most likely have drug policies already in place that would prohibit medical marijuana. Cockey believes that even companies that rely on federal funding could potentially prohibit its employees from using medical marijuana.

Until a court case sets the precedent for what rights employees have in the workplace, Cockey says he is advising companies to play it safe. If those companies are not subject to the drug-free workplace act or not subject to department of transportation employee regulations, to treat medical marijuana as a prescription drug. If the specific job function would not be safe for use, he advises the employer to find a reasonable job within the company where it would be safe.

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