Medical Marijuana Discrimination

In 2016, Pennsylvania passed the Medical Marijuana Act (MMA), which legalized the possession, sale and consumption of medical cannabis by patients who are residents of Pennsylvania. With the passage of this Act, registered patients were provided protection against medical marijuana discrimination in the workplace.

Despite the passage of the legislation and the number of years medical cannabis has been legal, some employees still face unfair discrimination by employers in the workplace. Some employees have been punished, demoted or even fired for using medical marijuana in a medicinal way.

Protection for Medical Marijuana Patients at Work

Workers who have faced medical marijuana discrimination in Pennsylvania have legal protection and can fight for their rights, according to a November 2019 ruling by the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County.

After analyzing comparable rulings in Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island, the court ruling noted, “Recognition of an implied right of action (under a section of the act) is consistent with the MMA’s stated purpose of providing safe and effective access to medical marijuana for eligible patients, while simultaneously protecting them from adverse employment treatment in furtherance” of the act’s legislative intent.

The decision was affirmed by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania on August 5, 2021, agreeing that, “… Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act (MMA) allows an employee to sue his or her employer for taking an adverse employment action based on the employee’s status as a certified user of medical marijuana.” (National Law Review, August 17, 2021)

The MMA states, “No employer may discharge, threaten, refuse to hire, or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee regarding an employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location or privileges solely on the basis or such employee’s status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana.”

Lepley, Engelman, Yaw and Wilk, LLC’s Pennsylvania medical marijuana discrimination lawyers provide employment law services to help those who may have faced discrimination by an employer due to medical marijuana use.

When Discrimination Happens Due to Medical Marijuana

Over the years, employees have been taking steps to combat discrimination due to their use of medical cannabis, like this medical marijuana discrimination suit over alleged employment discrimination.

Some employer policies remain unchanged because they are out of date or because they cite federal law, which categorizes marijuana as an illegal drug. Employers must update policies and engage in reasonable accommodation processes with workers in Pennsylvania and other states where medical marijuana is legal.

If you feel you have been discriminated against by an employer due to your registered medical cannabis usage, whether as a job applicant or as a current or former employee, contact a Pennsylvania medical marijuana discrimination lawyer, like Lepley, Engelman, Yaw and Wilk, LLC. We will help you fight for your rights and your job.

Protections for Employers

As employees further define their rights in relationship to medical marijuana use, employers must be educated, up to date on local laws and remain alert to protect their businesses from lawsuits.

Employers must ensure that workers or applicants using medical marijuana are able to safely and effectively perform the job to prevent workers compensation claims. If the employer conducts drug testing, they must work with drug testing companies and their HR team to identify appropriate protocols if test results come back positive. Employers may not discriminate against applicants or employees for their status as registered patients.

The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act also prohibits patients using medical cannabis from participating in designated high-risk activities to keep the workplace safe. Some of the specific prohibitions of the Act include:

  1. Patients may not operate or be in physical control of any of the following with more than 10 nanograms per milliliter of THC of their blood in serum:
    • Chemicals that require a federal or state permit
    • High-voltage electricity or other public utilities
  2. Patients may not perform employment duties at heights or in confined spaces while under the influence.
  3. Patients may be prohibited by an employer from performing any task the employer deems as life threatening – whether to the patient or any other employee – while under the influence of medical marijuana.
  4. Patients may be prohibited by an employer from performing any duties that could result in a public health or safety risk while under the influence of marijuana.

As far as making accommodations for employees who use medical marijuana, employers are not required to make any accommodation of the use of medical marijuana on work premises.

Employers are also not limited from disciplining employees who are or who are working under the influence of medical marijuana when their conduct falls below the expected job performance.

What to do if You Have Been Discriminated Against Because of Medical Marijuana

If you have been discriminated against in the job hiring process or at work due to your use of medical marijuana, contact our team of Pennsylvania medical cannabis lawyers today.

We can work with you to discuss your rights and the best next steps. Whether filing a discrimination claim with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, our medical marijuana legal experts will walk you through every step of the way.

Contact Lepley, Engelman, Yaw and Wilk, LLC today if you have been discriminated against due to your use of medical marijuana. Call (800) 422-5396 today.

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Northern Tier Pennsylvania (570) 673-4081
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