Some questions remain regarding implementation of medical marijuana in the workplace — some of which may be decided in the courts.
While it became legal to use marijuana in Oklahoma if you have a medical marijuana license and prescription — the legality of use in the workplace remains in doubt.
A policy change for Pittsburg County employees highlights this doubt.
Employees who test positive for marijuana and it components will not be discharged based solely on the positive test if they have a valid Oklahoma Medical Marijuana license.
Job applicants can’t be denied a job based solely on a positive test for marijuana or components if they have a medical marijuana license.
The prior two statements are true provided the employee or applicant does not have or seek a safety-sensitive job.
This would parallel the use of medication that would inhibit employees’ ability to do their job safely.
No employer would want an employee to drive a vehicle or operate heavy machinery or work in an area where machinery is present if the employee’s facilities are impaired by any medication.
Employees can get hurt or worse if they try to work under the influence of any medication.
For example, some over the counter cough medication can make you too drowsy to work safely.
Prohibiting employees from working under the influence of any medication is a way of protecting employees, customers and civilians.
That prohibition also protects employers from liability in case an employee has an accident while taking medication.
Most employers want employees to stay home if they are sick — particularly if they are contagious. Too many hours are lost to individuals who became sick because someone else came to work sick.
But there are chronic conditions that are treated with medical marijuana that are not contagious. It is entirely possible to have an employee who is not contagious working while using medical marijuana. There are many other employees who are working while using other medicines.
We are unaware of any case where an employee was discharged for testing positive for use of medical marijuana and whether that employee then filed a lawsuit.
More employers will begin writing policies to cover use of medical marijuana. It may take awhile to determine if those policies can withstand a court case.